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Josh Wolf Fights for Our First Amendment Rights

Posted in GETV Episode by ekai on the September 20th, 2006

Josh Wolf, freelance journalist, videoblogger and federal prisoner who is not accused of committing a crime, was out on bail while the courts considered his case. We caught up with Josh just days before he found out that his bail was revoked and his first appeal was denied. Josh is facing a contempt charge for failing to turn over unpublished video footage to a federal Grand Jury. Normally under state law, Josh is protected by the California Shield Law. Since this case has been federalized, the normal rules don’t apply. Full details of Josh’s case can be found on his blog.

UPDATE: Josh Wolf got a 48 hour reprieve from the 9th Circuit Court from turning himself into federal prison in Dublin, CA. He now has to report to prison on Friday, September 22nd at 1pm PDT. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, come see and support Josh at a benefit event tomorrow night (Thur, 9/21) at Crash Nightclub in SF.

UPDATE 2: Josh is interviewed on Irene McGee’s No One’s Listening show.

Episode links: Josh Wolf, Josh’s Grand Jury page, Benefit Event, CA Shield Law, No One’s Listening

Formats available: Quicktime (.mov) | OggTheora (.ogg)

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  • Zadi

    Thanks for covering this. We support Josh and his conviction. I really hope something positive comes out of this!

  • chuck

    I have to plug Amanda’s interview with him too, since I was up all night editing it:

  • chuck

    oops, i meant to put a smiley face after that comment so it didn’t sound too pompous. ready — here it is!


  • tagami

    Hey Josh – Glad to hear you have a reprieve, if even for 48 hours.

    California need to step up and strengthen state’s rights. Extending municipal (SF) police cars under “federal property” has allowed it to go this far. Everyone in California, please tell your Senators and Representatives to make a stand.

    Great followup coverage guys, way to keep the dialogue going!

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  • Jake Lockley

    I’m sorry I’m not sure I follow why we’re supporting him. He witnessed a crime and destruction of property and refuses to provide evidence, furthering the propogation of violent behavior in demonstrators and costing us more in tax dollars to try and get him to turn the criminals in?

    I just don’t get it, as far as I can tell this is costing California residents no matter what, only financially the cost of him cooperating is less. What principles exactly was he standing up for? And why exactly is he protecting violent behavior in demonstrators?

    I’m all for jumping on a bandwagon, but this seems to show a lack of critical thinking. It seems more like an adolescent’s way of shaking his fist at authority rather than looking out for public interest. Legally he’s got no case.

    Someone please walk me through the logic of how this guy’s retort helps. I must be missing something.

  • ekai

    Jake: If the facts as you state them were correct, I would be in agreement with you. The fact is that Josh did NOT witness the alleged crimes (the only evidence anyone was able to turn up is a police report citing a broken tail light on a police vehicle, a federal matter?) nor did he capture them on the videotape as he’s stated numerous times. He’s offered to show the judge the tape so he can decide for himself, but the judge has refused.

    What Josh is standing up for is a free press that should not have to be the surveillence arm of the US Government. In Califronia and 15 other states, the press have protections that allow them to effectively gather news. The California Shield Law (linked above) protects journalists from having to turn over unpublished materials, which is exactly the case here. There is a chilling effect when the press are made to turn over any materials they gather to the authorities anytime they ask for it.

    Since you brought up tax dollars, it costs $40,000 a year to lock up Josh. The US Attorney’s office, their staff, judges, the court staff all add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Money better spent in actually going after criminals.

    I hope this helps to clear things up a bit.

  • Mac Steve

    its seems this episode currently crashes my iTunes 7 on OSX 10.4.7 (via the podcast function) – the previous one loaded okay. After it has loaded iTunes just stalls consuming 99% CPU. Anyone has the same problems?

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  • ekai

    Mac Steve: It seems as the .ogg version of the file was going out as the rss feed enclosure for a bit, which would explain this behavior. You should be able to delete it and redownload the podcast in itunes and it should be fine. Thanks for the heads up!

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  • N. Pomeroy

    The situation:
    1. Mr. wolf gets a Grand Jury subpeona. (This is fact finding to see if there’s any evidence worth considering)

    2. Mr. Wolf refuses to comply, mistakenly thinking that “Shield Laws” shield journalists from subpeonas or the legal gathering of potential evidence. In any case, there is no federal “Shield Law” and he’s being tried by the federal courts. so EVEN IF IT APPLIED to him, it doesn’t, y’know *apply* to him.

    3. Mr Wolf believes that assuring the judge his tape doesn’t have evidence on it is enough to keep the subpoena/grand jury/law at bay. Mr. Wolf’s word on what is contained is less compelling than recorded evidence which has been legally requested of him.

    4. Judge finds Mr. Wolf to be hindering legal investigation (“contempt of court” for you legal-eagles out there), and tosses him into prison.

    5. Mr. Wolf preens and plays the victim because he thinks he can flaunt the law and uses his newfound celebrity (and his lawyers’ statements) to rage against the DictatorMcChimpyBusHilterInThiefAndHisJunta.

    6a. The gullible 20-somethings of the world who figure themselves to be stickin’-it-to-The-Man rally around Mr. Wolf as some sort of icon of free expression, conflating freedom of the press and “desire to break the law and get away with it.”
    6b. Forum posters continue to misunerstand or misrepresent “freedom of the press” and “Shield Laws” as well as what’s really going on/at stake in Mr. Wolf’s case by using terms such as “chilling effect” trying to score on emotional appeals. I’m looking at you, ekal.

    7. Geek Entertainment TV gets sucked in by this preening huckster and gives Mr. Wolf a bully pulpit from which he can misrepresent his position in the hopes of garnering more simpathy or money or internet-fame(tm) or whatever. He wants anything but the rule of law, it seems.

    8. GETV misrepresents his incarceration saying “he isn’t accused of any crime” which is missing the point and a straw man. He was jailed for “contempt of court” which is or can be either criminal or civil, depending on what he did to frustrate the legal proceedings.

    Upshot: Mr. Wolf portays himself as a victim of civil liberties violation, when indeed all he is is hindering lawful investigation of a crime by not producing possible evidence for a duly empaneled grand jury as they try to find out whether or not there is sufficient evidence to charge vandals and possible felons with arson.

    In his interview with GETV, he impunes the motives of law enforcement officials, misrepresents why he was jailed, and continues to think he should get a “get out of jail free” card for doing nothing but frustrate the law.

    Josh should sit in the pen until he grows up a bit and realizes that his little powerplay-victim-fantasy isn’t doing anything productive.

    And GETV is so gullible it can’t be expressed by mere words.

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  • SFO Taxi

    haye, thanks for the post. I am a fan of Josh Wolf. He's a real wolf

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