Gawker Media Claims Reporter Exemption in Gizmodo Raid

JASON CHENWhen Gizmodo editor Jason Chen’s computer was seized Friday night (as part of the investigation into Apple’s missing/stolen iPhone), after the issuance of a search warrant, Gawker Media’s lawyer/COO Gaby Darbyshire claimed that the warrant was invalid, due to reporter privilege. She may actually be correct! If the police are seeking “unpublished information,” which they clearly are through the seizure, then they would seem to be in violation of California evidence code. Nick Denton’s memo to the staff, issued this afternoon, is his shortest to date: “Sorry to keep you in the dark about this until we were ready to go public. We were trying to resolve this discreetly and couldn’t afford a leak. I hope you can understand that we can’t really discuss this while the investigation proceeds.” The reasons for the seizure of the computer (which involved the police breaking down the editor’s front door) were: “it was used as the means of committing a felony” and “it tends to show that a felony has been committed or that a particular person has committed a felony.” If they are trying to use a reporter’s notes to prove that someone who isn’t the reporter has committed a felony, it seems to me that’s not going to fly for one second in California. Among the items taken by the police? “1 pg. doc Signed by Gaby Darbyshire pertaining to invalid search warrant.” SPECULATION: The reporter shield law, while her interpretation is absolutely correct, might not be germane-if the police are investigating the editor himself as the person who committed the felony. “Do bloggers count as journalists? I guess we’ll find out,” is how Nick Denton put it on his Twitter. In an ideal situation, yeah! But maybe you’re going to find out that journalism and/or blogging is totally incidental to what happened here.