California Judges Nuke Two More SFPD Warrants Used To Search A Journalist's Home And Office

from the maybe-rushing-into-that-whole-police-state-thing-a-bit-too-quickly dept

The San Francisco Police Department’s “investigation” of journalist Bryan Carmody has just about finished collapsing completely. The stupid “investigation” — supposedly initiated to figure out which cop leaked sensitive documents to the stringer — has been the equivalent of a claymore mine deployed in reverse. Several claymore mines, to be more precise. With each iteration of the news cycle, the SFPD has sustained consecutive, concussive blasts to the face.

What culminated in a raid of Carmody’s house began with a warrant seeking phone call and messaging data covering two days in February. That warrant has already been unsealed and quashed, with the judge pointing out the swearing officer did everything he could to avoid telling the court the SFPD was looking to put a journalist under surveillance.

This warrant preceded everything else. Since that was the foundation for search warrants targeting Carmody’s home and the multiple devices SFPD officers seized from there, the rest of the investigation — along with any charges the SFPD thought it might get away with pressing — is disintegrating. Nicholas Iovino reports for Courthouse News Service that two more warrants the SFPD obtained have been tossed by judges.

Records of phone calls between freelance journalist Bryan Carmody and an unnamed San Francisco police officer served as evidence that a leaked police report may have been “unlawfully obtained,” San Francisco Superior Court Judge Victor Hwang said in court Friday.

The warrant used to seize Carmody’s phone data was quashed by Superior Court Judge Rochelle East on July 18.

Because all evidence derived from the phone warrant must now be destroyed, Hwang said probable cause no longer exists to justify the warrant that authorized seizing Carmody’s computer, tablets and cellphone from his office in May.

That takes care of two of the warrants. There were five warrants, and this takes care of three of them. Judge Rochelle East tossed the phone warrant last month. Judge Hwang tossed this one — targeting Carmody’s office — on August 2nd. And Judge Gail Dekreon appears ready to toss the warrant she signed to search Carmody’s house.

Judge Dekreon said Friday that the 14-page affidavit she relied on when authorizing the raid on Carmody’s home also included information derived from the now-quashed phone warrant.

Dekreon said police never told her Carmody had a press pass issued by the San Francisco Police Department.

Dekreon’s ruling isn’t due until August 15th, but it seems pretty clear this one will be tossed when the official ruling is handed down. That just leaves one more warrant — one for phone data covering a different time period. With everything following it apparently based on information obtained during the first illegal search, none of the warrants are valid.

If the SFPD had decided to keep an investigation of an internal leak internal, none of this would have happened. Instead, the department gave local journalists even less reason to trust local law enforcement.

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Comments on “California Judges Nuke Two More SFPD Warrants Used To Search A Journalist's Home And Office”

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sehlat (profile) says:


That doesn’t change the fact that the police seized his hardware and information, and have had plenty of time to copy everything. Even if they can’t use that information directly, I’m sure somebody will go through it looking for "where to look." Figuring where to look is over 90% of any investigation. Then they’ll make up excuses for how they did it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Liars that get Judges to sign...

Judges who issued the search warrants are the biggest culprits here — and of course suffer no personal consequences for their misdeeds.

Judges are not helpless pawns at the mercy of some dumb cop creatively composing a search-warrant application.
Judges are supposed to be tough, alert watchdogs … protecting citizen rights.

But we all know that most judges are just plodding government bureaucrats — whose paycheck & cushy benefits look the same no matter what they do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Liars that get Judges to sign...

"that same judge quashed one of her own warrants" … as purely a personal CYA maneuver.

Quashing a search warrant that was executed months ago serves no real purpose. The damage has already been done.

A crime was committed (illegal search warrant & illegal search/seizure action) — what are the police and courts required to do when presented with obvious hard evidence of a felony crime and the specific persons who committed that crime?

Anon Y. Mouse (profile) says:

News Flash!


In true "Never Give Up." style after dissatisfaction with the results top officials demanded all involved officers repeat the process after donning golf cleats, taking clog-dancing lessons and then sit in a vat of Tiger Balm..

5 Times..

Op Ed: From a purely sociological view when "Law Enforcement" ceases to be bound by "The Law", "The Law" loses all validity and will then be ignored by all except when selectively enforced by prosecuters..

David says:

Re: News Flash!

Selective enforcement as a means for arbitrary hassling is sort of the point of laws that prohibit you to lead a donkey during Happy Hour when your daughter is within a distance of 100 feet and not wearing braids (I made that one up but you probably couldn’t tell without checking your relevant state law code). There are numerous state laws that tend to serve no purpose but to harrass particular individuals identifiable by their habits and that serve no discernible purpose other than being a pretext.

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