Judge orders review of Seattle demonstration news pictures sought by police; news outlets will appeal – Seattle Times

31July 2020

A King County judge modified his judgment from recently, ordering Friday that either he or an unique master initially will conduct a closed-door review of five Seattle news outlets’unpublished protest photos and videos before deciding whether any need to be turned over to Seattle police for a continuous criminal examination.

Superior Court Judge Nelson Lee said he added the provision for the evaluation of the news images– taken throughout a demonstration May 30 downtown by reporters for The Seattle Times and TELEVISION stations KIRO, KING, KOMO and KCPQ– after facing his July 23 oral ruling that the media outlets need to comply with < ahref=http://

“https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6979683-Subpoena-Duces-Tecum-Seattle-Times-Company-Et-Al.html”target =”_ blank”class =”content-link external” > an authorities subpoena. In spite of the revisions, Seattle Times Managing Editor Michele Matassa Flores said the media celebrations to the case are” disappointed with Judge Lee’s judgment and we will be filing an appeal.”While we value the judge’s addition of an intermediary– possibly himself– to evaluate the product and select what to hand to the police, we strongly think this decision presents a danger to the independence of the media and to the security of photojournalists,” Matassa Flores said.


Authorities contend the raw news images and footage, taken throughout a 1 1/2-hour period when violence erupted throughout the protests, might help recognize several suspects who torched five Seattle Cops Department automobiles and took 2 cops guns.


The judge’s ruling recently that the media needed to turn over the images drew extensive criticism from national civil rights and press freedom groups, regional and nationwide news organizations and a number of Seattle City board members, among others

. Advertising Lee’s last written order, entered Friday after hearings about it spanned parts of two days, offers media outlets 21 days to appeal and obtain a stay to his order. If they do not, the news outlets must turn over all unpublished images and video footage caught by their photojournalists’ news cams in between 3:30 and 5 p.m. on Might 30, in the area between Olive Method and Pike Street, from Fourth to Sixth avenues.

The court estimates the personal evaluation will use up to 10 days, with either the judge or a special master to determine if any images illustrate people involved in the arsons and thefts under examination, according to the order. Images fulfilling such requirements would be provided to police, which might utilize them only for the arson and theft cases.

The evaluation likewise might determine “nothing gets committed the Seattle Authorities Department,” Lee stated, describing he aimed “to include another layer of scrutiny” to allay issues about federal government invasion on free speech rights.

Eric Stahl, an attorney for the media groups, raised no objections with the review, but told the judge: “My customers still feel the decision is incorrect … and might put journalists on the ground at danger.”

The May 30 protests in downtown Seattle consisted of nonviolent presentations with numerous people objecting the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops previously that week. However as the day endured, the presentations broke down into violence.

Cops clashed with protesters, letting loose pepper-spray, flash-bang grenades and other crowd-control weapons. Vandals smashed store windows, looted companies and heavily harmed 6 squad cars– breaking windows and eliminating equipment prior to splashing 5 of the automobiles with an accelerant and setting them ablaze, according to a police affidavit and other documents.

Advertising A packed Glock 43 semi-automatic pistol and a loaded Colt M4 carbine rifle with a suppressor remain missing, the SPD affidavit states. Cops have actually arrested 2 people originating from the thefts and arson, and partly determined others based upon offered images. Seattle police Det. Mike Magan testified at a previous hearing that he and other officers put in more than 1,000 hours combined investigating the criminal activities, however the investigation struck a dead end, leading police to get the subpoena.

The media groups argued Washington’s guard law, which typically avoids authorities from obtaining journalists’ unpublished products, protected the images from subpoena. They likewise contended authorities didn’t exhaust all alternatives necessary to meet exceptions to the law.

During Stahl’s questioning of Magan, the investigator acknowledged cops had not made a direct public plea for aid to recognize the suspects with the pictures already available, and Magan affirmed he had not examined all 69 demonstration images published in a Seattle Times online image gallery.

Magan testified once again on that point Friday, backtracking from his earlier statement by stating he had, in reality, evaluated all images in the gallery prior to seeking a subpoena. The investigator told the judge he misconstrued Stahl’s questioning throughout the previous hearing. The judge accepted the description, considering Magan a trustworthy witness regardless of Stahl’s objections the detective had contradicted himself.

Lee typically has sided with case arguments from SPD’s attorney, Brian Esler, who stated the examination’s special circumstances passed the tests for an exception to the guard law. Amongst his reasons, Esler mentioned a “compelling public interest” that surpassed press protections existed for acquiring the news images to help authorities nab dangerous suspects and missing out on weapons.

After Lee provided his ruling recently, civil liberties supporters, press groups and others rapidly knocked it. The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington stated the decision “threatens the independence of the media,” and the National Press Photographers Association and Press Freedom Defense Fund collectively said the judgment “needlessly pits the free press against the public they report for, and forces them– versus their will– to help the federal government they are bound to hold liable through their reporting.”

Advertising Matassa Flores, the Times ‘editor, wrote in an editor’s note to readers this week that the paper’s opposition to the cops subpoena is based on a principled stand for protecting&an independent press, not bad guys.”Our factors have nothing to do with the parties included,”Matassa Flores composed.”They have everything to do with our role– the role of journalism– in society. We should stand independent of those we cover.

“Lee initially signified during a hearing early Thursday that he ‘d revise his oral ruling to include the closed-door review after grappling with the fallout of his judgment for days. “This case has actually certainly taxed me,”

Lee stated. “… From the start, this court has been trying to stabilize the protections afforded to the free media versus the concerns for public security. “Still, Lee ruled the investigation certified as an unusual exception to the shield statute, keeping in mind the case marked the first time a court analyzed the law’s application for a criminal case since Washington lawmakers passed it in 2007. The judge stated the investigation’s special circumstances integrated with his directly tailored order provided him guarantees the judgment would not”open a stream of cases” where authorities subpoena the news media.Source: seattletimes.com

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