Media organizations file motion to unseal affidavit used in warrant on Jason Chen’s home

Thu, May 6, 2010

Legal, News

On April 23, 2010, authorities from California’s Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team entered the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen whereupon they seized a number of his electronic devices including 4 computers and a spankin’ new iPad.

The blitz into Chen’s home was the result of Gizmodo purchasing a prototype iPhone for $5000 and a subsequent police investigation into the matter which was sparked by Apple reporting that the device had, in fact, been stolen and not lost.

Over the past two weeks, the legality of the search warrant for Chen’s home has been vigorously debated. While critics of the warrant argue that Chen, as a journalist, is immune from governmental search and seizures, we humbly contend that the journalistic shield laws don’t apply here because there was an actual commission, or at least a reasonable suspicion, of a crime. Moreover, the journalistic shield law defense raised by critics of the seizure is intended to protect the identity of sources, not as a get out of jail free card for journalists to engage in criminal behavior with carte blanche.

Anyways, the Associated Press, Bloomberg News,, and a number of other media organizations are now asking a judge to unseal the affidavit which gave way to the search warrant issued for Chen’s home. For what it’s worth, the search warrant itself is already in the public domain, but apparently news organizations want to figure out exactly what information triggered the issuance of the search warrant to begin with, especially in light of the fact that Chen is a journalist subject certain protections under the law.

The motion to release the affidavit was filed this Wednesday in Superior Court in California’s San Mateo County. A hearing on the matter is scheduled to take place this afternoon. We’ll keep you updated.



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