Judge nixes media request for iPhone warrant
Judge refuses to consider media organizations' request to learn the justification police used to search a Gizmodo editor's home for information about the sale of a possible iPhone prototype.
REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--A San Mateo County judge on Thursday refused to consider a request by media organizations to learn the justification police used to search a Gizmodo editor's home for information about the sale of a possible iPhone prototype.
Judge Stephen Hall rejected the group's request for a hearing on Thursday, instead assigning it to the judge who granted the search warrant last month and who is expected to hear arguments next week.
The District Attorney's Office opposed the, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, the Los Angeles Times, and other news organizations in a legal brief filed Thursday with the court. The prosecutors argued that they have the right to "maintain the security of an ongoing investigation, which may well be compromised by the disclosure of the search warrant affidavit."
The reason for the sealing is that the documents contain the names of two individuals of interest, whom police do not want to alert, an attorney for the media coalition said after talking to Stephen Wagstaffe, chief deputy district attorney.
Prosecutors also said the sealed affidavit is "not a public record and thus is not subject to requests under any public-records act."
The judge who originally signed the--a warrant that may be invalid under California's newsroom search act--is Judge Clifford Cretan. The judge is currently presiding over a trial and is not expected to consider the request until next week.
Wagstaffe said in an interview with CNET that there is "further investigation we want to do, people we want to speak with." He defended his office's decision to search Chen's home office, saying "our belief is that it's a proper search." He said discussions with Chen's attorney over the computers seized during last month's evening raid are ongoing.
The iPhone saga began in March, when Gray Powell, a 27-year-old Apple computer engineer, left what may be a 4G iPhone at a German beer garden in Redwood City, Calif. According to a Wired.com report on Thursday, Brian Hogan, 21, has acknowledged finding the phone. With the help of friends, Hoganbefore finally selling the handset to Gizmodo for $5,000.
Prosecutors in the case say they are conducting a felony theft investigation, but no charges have been filed. Police have interviewed Hogan and one other unidentified man in connection with the sale to Gizmodo.
Gawker Media, Gizmodo's parent company, has called the search warrant "invalid," and an attorney representing the blog network"is available because search is not the appropriate method in this situation."