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Groups Supporting Bay Area Journalist Encouraged By Federal Shield Law Push

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 9 months ago

For Immediate Release: August 24, 2006


Groups Supporting Bay Area Journalist Encouraged By Federal Shield Law Push


California State Legislators Unanimously Call on U.S. Congress to Pass Federal Law


Contact Carlos Villarreal at 415.377.6961 or Kris Hermes at 510.836.0395




The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area (NLGSF) and the Grand Jury Resistance

Project (GJRP) – two Bay Area organizations that have organized legal and political

support for jailed journalist Josh Wolf – applaud the actions of the California Assembly

and Senate which have unanimously called for the U.S. Congress to pass a Federal Shield

Law for journalists.




“The media stands as an important check on the power of the government and law

enforcement, but its effectiveness is severely undercut if journalists can be used as an

arm of government or a tool for law enforcement,” said Carlos Villarreal, Executive

Director of the NLGSF. “This important vote in Sacramento certainly bolsters our

position in defending Josh Wolf despite the lack of concern for the 1st Amendment

expressed by Federal Judge Alsup or Federal Prosecutor Jeffrey Finigan.”




Josh Wolf, an independent journalist from San Francisco, was jailed August 1st for

insisting that he ought to be constitutionally entitled to withhold an unedited

videotape of a protest from a Federal Grand Jury. California’s Journalist Shield law

would have protected Wolf, but Finigan argued that neither statutes nor case law provide

protection at the federal level. Judge Alsup agreed and jailed Wolf for contempt. He

could remain in a federal facility in Dublin, California for a year – the life of the

grand jury. Not long before the resolution passed, Assemblyman Mark Leno released a

statement saying, “We must stand against the circumvention of our constitutional rights,

and support those brave individuals who defend our right to a press that is free from

government obstruction.”




Both the NLG and GJRP have attempted to rally support around the Wolf case in

particular. “While a number of journalists have been jailed or face jail time for

refusing to hand over sources or materials to grand juries, Josh’s situation is of

particular concern because the footage requested is of a political protest,” said Kris

Hermes of the GJRP. “His case shows how important an independent media is, not just to

the free flow of information, but to many other liberties as well – the right to

political expression, speech and association.”




Wolf is represented by the Oakland law firm Siegel & Yee on behalf of the NLGSF. His

attorneys have filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and expect a

decision as soon as September 5th.




The San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted their own resolution last week urging the

passage of a Federal Shield Law and condemning the federal government’s actions in the

Wolf case. The resolution charges that the grand jury is an “attempt to circumvent the

local judicial system,” since the crime being investigated involves an alleged attack on

a San Francisco police car.




For more information on the Wolf case see http://freejosh.pbwiki.com/

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