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Monday, April 09, 2007

 

Jailed journalist to be freed

Joshua Wolf spent more than seven months in a federal prison after refusing to obey a subpoena to turn over his videotape of a chaotic 2005 San Francisco street protest during the G-8 summit. The Government had been investigating how a police officer's skull was fractured during the incident and who set a police car on fire. Wolf's lawyer argued that the First amendment gave him the right to refuse the subpoena for the unaired video. U.S District Judge William Alsup cited a 1972 supreme court ruling that the U.S. constitution does not entitle reporters, or anybody else, to withhold confidential sources or unpublished material from a grand jury during an investigation in a criminal trial. Wolf refused to hand over the video tape and was jailed. After 226 days later the unaired video tape was posted online and it had been decided the Wolf had complied with the subpoena and was released.

After reading this article I am confused as to what exactly our government thinks it is doing. We have already learned about all the great things congress has the power to regulate, like global warming for example. Now it seems that pretty much anything we own is actually congresses. Apparently they can take our private property for whatever use they please and if we refuse we can be thrown in jail. It was believed that this video tape had some evidence on it of some sort and I guess that was the reasoning behind the taking. In the article it mentions that it turned out the video tape did not even show what investigators were looking for. So why exactly was Joshua Wolf jailed for over seven months? Well, I guess I can't say. I never read anything that says if you don't surrender your private property to the government you can be thrown in jail. I understand the concept of takings for public use with just compensation but this case doesn't seem to make any sense. Apparently the government has a lot more power than what has been specifically given to it by the constitution.

Comments:
I think the police power includes the power to get evidence that is useful in determining guilt or innocence in a criminal trial.

In addition, taking the tape as evidence is probably not like taking a parcel of land. After the criminal case ends, there is no longer any need for government to retain the tape, and I'm pretty sure the tape would then be returned to the owner.
 
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