Judge Rules UC Berkeley Police Wrongly Seized Journalist’s Camera

A Superior Court judge ruled last week that University of California, Berkeley police (UCPD) illegally searched a journalist's camera while investigating an attack on the chancellor's campus home.

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BERKELEY, Calif.—A Superior Court judge ruled last week that University of California, Berkeley police (UCPD) illegally searched a journalist’s camera while investigating an attack on the chancellor’s campus home.

Protesters hurled torches at Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s home during a Dec. 11 protest against an increase in student fees. David Morse, a journalist who was covering the event, was arrested along with the crowd, according to The Daily Californian.

Morse constantly identified himself as a journalist to police before he was arrested, according to First Amendment Project, a firm that represented Morse in the case. However, police obtained a search warrant to review Morse’s photos before he was released on bail. Morse’s lawyer added that police did not tell the judge that Morse had identified himself as a journalist when they requested the warrant.

For its part, the UCPD said the department wrote the original affidavit for the search warrant in good faith, and a judge consented to the request.

Morse was initially able to recover his camera and backpack from campus police in late December. However, he was given blank discs when he requested his photographs be returned. The UCPD used the original copies as part of their ongoing investigation.

Judge Yolanda Northridge ordered the return of all copies of Morse’s photographs.

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