Friday, June 5, 2009

Vehicle code trumps First Amendment

Federal Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco, the younger brother of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, has come down hard against those who gather the news, ruling that Oakland Tribune photographer Ray Chavez did not have the right to photograph a crash scene on I-880 if his car was parked on the freeway.

It didn't matter to Breyer that traffic had come to a halt. It also didn't matter to Breyer that Chavez was cursed at and was subjected to humiliation after he was left on the roadside in handcuffs for 30 minutes.

The Tribune, owned by MediaNews Group, plans to appeal, according to a story it printed about the decision. An attorney for the paper believes the judge misinterpreted the federal law. The Tribune will file a claim in state court and appeal the federal decision by Breyer. The appeal will go to the Ninth Circuit, which does not have a track record of supporting First Amendment rights. However, decisions by the Ninth Circuit are overturned more often than any other circuit, the LA Times reported in 2007.

Here's a link to Breyer's remarkable ruling where he actually cites the California Vehicle Code.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

California Penal Code 409.5 (d):
Nothing in this section shall prevent a duly authorized representative of any news service, newspaper, or radio or television station or network from entering the areas closed pursuant to this section.

Anonymous said...

This nitwit judge should issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the Oakland cop who had this photographer handcuffed. This case is outrageous. Download the PDF and read it!

Anonymous said...

A lot of judges have grudges against the media, and when they get a case like this, they find a way to screw the news organization that's involved. I've been through this a couple of times. Judges just don't like reporters or newspapers, and they realize there is little consequence to issuing a ruling that is completely outside the law. They're not going to get fired or get their pay cut for such a crazy ruling. And the 9th circus won't over turn it. So the Tribune is faced with either taking this to the Supreme Court or fighting it out in state court. The situation sucks.