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Friday, September 15, 2006

Not-So-Grand Juries

Josh Wolf is a 24 year old activist vlogger, who was jailed for not providing video footage he shot at a demonstration (where a San Francisco police car was burned) to a federal grand jury investigating the case. He recently lost his appeal. How many people are acquainted with the sweeping powers of grand juries vs. the public judicial system? I'm not, but it sounds like some kind of parallel Bush-style tribunal system. Are we going to see subpoenas on anyone who had a camcorder or a picture-taking cell phone in the vicinity of any crime? Apparently a state grand jury would have been limited in demanding Wolf's footage if he was found to be a reporter protecting his sources (a federal grand jury does not have to observe these "shield laws") but the appeals judge said that Wolf is not a journalist. As Wolf points out, there is no license for journalists and a vlogger who is self publishing their footage on the web is every bit as much a journalists as the Bush-Cheney apologists on Fox. (I won't go any further with the Wolf-Fox contrast.)

SF Chronicle Article 9/12/06

At this point, Wolf, who says he has no footage of the police car burning and was willing to show the footage to the Appeals judge, may have to go back to jail until the "grand jury" finishes its term in July.

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