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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Judge rules media have no more rights than general public at crime, accident scenes

If the general public doesn't have access to a crime or accident scene, journalists don't have a First Amendment right to that access either, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. This ruling came from U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer who dismissed the case of Oakland Tribune photographer Ray Chavez. Chavez was arrested after officers barred him from standing in the freeway to take photos of an accident.
A federal judge has dismissed a civil-rights lawsuit filed by a newspaper photographer who accused officers of illegally barring him from taking pictures at a freeway crash scene and handcuffing him when he persisted.

Oakland Tribune photographer Ray Chavez, 45, said police officers had interfered with his right as a member of the press to cover news, specifically a car crash and the emergency response time. He was "arrested and handcuffed without justification solely due to the exercise of First Amendment rights," said his suit, filed in U.S. District Court.

But in a ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco dismissed the suit, saying the media have no First Amendment right to be at an accident or crime scene if the general public is excluded.

More here.

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