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Phoenix Police Seize PCs of a Blogger Critical of the Department 515

Posted by Soulskill
from the check-and-mate dept.
logicassasin sends in a story about a blogger in Phoenix, AZ, who runs a site that is critical of the local police department. The police recently raided his home and seized his computer hardware. "Jeff Pataky, who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, said the officers confiscated three computers, routers, modems, hard drives, memory cards and everything necessary to continue blogging. The 41-year-old software engineer said they also confiscated numerous personal files and documents relating to a pending lawsuit he has against the department alleging harassment — which he says makes it obvious the raid was an act of retaliation." A local publication quotes Pataky saying, "We have heard internally from our police sources that they purposefully did this to stop me... They took my cable modem and wireless router. Anyone worth their salt knows nothing is stored in the cable modem."
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Phoenix Police Seize PCs of a Blogger Critical of the Department

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  • Accidentally modded you wrongly, posting to undo
  • by x_MeRLiN_x (935994) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:38PM (#27458237) Homepage

    All the available evidence [slashdot.org] points to thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) [slashdot.org].

  • Re:Backfired! (Score:4, Informative)

    by McGruber (1417641) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:59PM (#27458421)

    The real question is, who's the judge who signed the warrant?

    FTA: "Maricopa County Judge Gary Donahoe (http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/JudicialBiographies/Judges/judicialBio.asp?jdgID=19&jdgUSID=121) signed the search warrant"

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @01:11PM (#27458519) Journal
    The kid in that movie threatened to spray pesticide in the face of the police officer. It's on a completely different level from what happened in TFA. Threatening police is a bad idea, even if you're just joking.
  • by redelm (54142) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @01:53PM (#27458865) Homepage
    Maybe, mabe not. This guy appearently was accused of spousal abuse, not prosecuted, then decided to turn the tables. Who knows?

    But there's a _very_ easy remedy: his lawyer asks for summary judgement or a directed verdict in his suit against the cops. His case has been compromised, aned those are reasonable remedies.

    Judges do not like to grant summary, so s/he might review the probable cause the warrent-granting judge signed off on. I expect some pointed questions under oath of the requesting officers. Unless they have pretty cast-iron probable cause of a serious felony, the cops are _hosed_.

    Not only will they have to pay whatever the suit claimed, but the Phoenix PD will suffer a serious loss of credibility with both judges, and probably all in the district. They'll find it harder to get warrents. Something they have to do every day. I expect some serious grovelling and a punative internal investigation to restore credibility.

    Or maybe nothing, depending on the personalities involved.

  • by fredklein (532096) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @02:08PM (#27458991)

    What do you want to bet his wife was right about the harassement to begin with ?

    "Many of the reports she filed accused him of doing things when he was out of town....When he went to trial in May 2008, his charges were immediately dismissed because of lack of evidence"

  • Not so obvious (Score:3, Informative)

    by Guillaume Castel (1002740) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @02:12PM (#27459029)

    Anyone worth their salt knows nothing is stored in the cable modem.

    I don't know about the USA, but in France, all major ISPs provide their customers with "boxes" that can not only act as a modem/router/wireless access point, but also provide phone service over IP, IPTV, and sometimes include a hard drive for PVR functionality; mine can even act as a FTP server (that's an advertised functionality), with either the included hard drive or even a USB flash drive plugged into the box.

    Anyone worth their salt knows that, right? Anyway, I don't expect the police to be fully aware of the latest advances in consumer hardware, so I don't think it's completely illegitimate for them to seize anything that looks related to computing equipement.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @02:29PM (#27459151)

    So if you read the article with any sense of fairness rather than biasing yourself against the police, I find it pretty hard to believe anything this man has to say.

    Lets look at the bullet points:

    • This began 2 years ago during HIS 'nasty divorce'
    • His wife claims he's harassing her and files complaints against him, with the police department.
    • He responds by not following the proper course of action and filing a police report, he instead, in his words:
      So he began filing complaints with everybody from Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon down to Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris to no avail. He was eventually indicted for harassing his ex-wife.
    • Read that again ... he harassed SEVERAL city officials, and then expects them to side with him and understand that he's not doing the SAME THING to his wife.
    • He makes a website because he's pissed off that the police aren't in a big hurry to prevent him from getting harassed.
    • Claims after his court case was dismissed he was going to take it down, but all these 'Good Cops' started giving him information

    So lets recap ... he gets accused of harassment, and promptly responds to that by harassing city officials ... uhm ... FIRST RED FLAG.

    He proceeds to follow up with a website damning the cops for not helping him. Let me give you a hint, no one rushes to help assholes like this.

    Next he says he's getting tips from 'good cops'. I call complete bullshit here. The cops of all people would know who to talk to up the chain of command at the state or federal level to get something done about this if they had any real information. They don't. Any tips he's getting are likely just the start of witch hunts on people they are trying to get even with.

    I have no doubt that there are corrupt cops in Phoenix.

    I also have no doubt that this guy is a douche bag who probably deserves more than he's going to get for starting a bunch of shit based on unsubstantiated 'tips' from what are most likely the corrupt cops themselves. Those that scream the loudest are typically the ones breaking the rules the most.

    This is a prime example of why anybody who trusts 'blogs' as a source of news is, to put it nicely, completely ignorant and should be terminated as soon as possible.

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @03:12PM (#27459493) Homepage

    "He is innocent until proven guilty, but the cops aren't? What kind of bullshit is that?"

    The only bullshit here is your interpretation of the phrase "innocent until proven guilty". The cops aren't the ones being charged under the law, and the presumption of innocence applies only to those so charged. The presumption of innocence doesn't apply at all to criticism of public officials, which is apparently all this blogger is guilty of.

    In any case, you are clearly an idiot. If I had mod points I'd have modded you a troll instead of replying.

  • by MinistryOfTruthiness (1396923) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @03:22PM (#27459549) Homepage Journal

    How about another one?

    "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance?"

    I'm sorry you don't like that I reference a writing that was about abuse of power and the coming of totalitarianism and the public's silence as it happened. It's important to remind people of the price that will be paid for letting the little things slide. The "little things" add up pretty quickly, and before you know it, you're asking yourself how this could happen in your country.

    You call Americans idiotic and dumb, but the poem written was about the idiocy of Europeans as they stood by and watched the worst happen. Excuse me if I don't want to do the same. Excuse me if I don't hold out hope that Europeans will come to fight for my freedom like Americans came to fight for theirs when they passively watched the rise of madmen.

  • by ushering05401 (1086795) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @03:46PM (#27459705) Journal

    I already explained why I am not in shock - I dealt with Rampart for years, and my parents and grandparents all dealt with their own variations on the theme.

    Abusive police departments are not only not new, they are as old as history.. which is why there are judges and all the other checks/balances in modern society.

    The truth is, though, that the type of abuse that is currently causing you to PANIC and type in all caps has been the default experience for impoverished people in this country for generations.

    Somehow we keep going... I'm gonna go listen to some Dust Bowl Ballads, excuse me.

  • Re:Backfired! (Score:2, Informative)

    by clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @03:57PM (#27459763)
    According to TFA, "Maricopa County Judge Gary Donahoe signed the search warrant." Judge Donahoe 's qualifications are described here [maricopa.gov]. His contact information (including phone and email address) is here [myazbar.org].
  • Re:Cable modem... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Solandri (704621) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @04:43PM (#27460021)

    Anyone worth their salt knows nothing is stored in the cable modem.

    Hate to post this under a joke, but wouldn't the police have to seize your cable modem in any case involving Internet activity? The only evidence they'll have prior to getting a warrant to search your property is a bunch of logs from the cable company. Those logs won't point to an address, they'll point to a MAC address (or whatever cable modems use). The cable company's records will say that MAC address belongs to a modem at such and such address, but to prove it they'll need the cable modem physically used at that address. Otherwise the resident could destroy the modem or switch his with a neighbor's and claim it wasn't his modem that was the source of that activity.

  • The blog in question (Score:3, Informative)

    by wolf12886 (1206182) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @05:02PM (#27460157)

    http://badphoenixcops.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

    Obviously the AZ police didn't like what this guy was publishing. I figure the more exposure it gets, the better.

  • by EsbenMoseHansen (731150) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @05:02PM (#27460159) Homepage

    Uh, I wouldn't go so far at this point as to say they're not a protector.

    Your ability to blog whatever you want is no good if hackers keep breaking into your web hosts servers and deleting all your content.

    Hacking is, contrary to myth, not that hard to avoid, no matter the resources. If push comes to shove, you could run the server yourself (as I do, though I don't blog).

    To elaborate: Hacking is not like forced physical entry. It is entirely possible to perfectly lock out hacking your computer remotely. In contrast, you can only delay a determined person gaining entry, unless you are willing and able to use force directly against said person: No mere lock or wall will keep out a determined person.

    Sort of like death really. TREMBLE BRIEF MORTAL! FOR I AM DEATH WHOM NO LOCK CAN HOLD NOR FASTENED PORTAL BAR! (yeah, yeah, shamely Pratchett quote there)

  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000 @ y a h o o . com> on Saturday April 04, 2009 @05:26PM (#27460301)

    What do we do to protect the police from rantings of ignorant bloggers who are pissed off because they got caught breaking the law in the past and can't except the results?

    Two things can be done, start your own blog and sue the person in civil court.

    Every fucking criminal on the planet says 'I'm innocent and this is police harrasment!!'

    Innocents who are harassed say the same thing.

    Falcon

  • Re:Backfired! (Score:4, Informative)

    by LackThereof (916566) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @06:04PM (#27460533)

    The warrant the judge signed was for Petty Theft, and "Computer Fraud with the intent to Harass".

    The blogger is suing the City of Phoenix over it, which means the judge and the police will both be examined, if the case goes anywhere.

    The alleged petty theft was for several officer's nameplates, which are actually copies made at a local trophy shop. Etched black lettering on a silver 2x8" plaque, Times New Roman, 48pt for the title, 72pt bold for the name.

  • by Jerry (6400) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @08:00PM (#27461325)

    I was once told, point blank, by a captain of the New Castle police department that, quote "his job was not to protect me from criminals, his job was to arrest me for not toeing the line."

    He probably told you that because he is a psychopath with a badge and a gun.

    But, according the the Supreme Court, he is correct.

    The seminal case establishing the general rule that police have no duty under federal law to protect citizens is DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services (109 S.Ct. 998, 1989; 489 U.S. 189 (1989)).

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1976377/posts [freerepublic.com]:
    "Police have no legal duty to respond and prevent crime or protect the victim. There have BEEN OVER 10 various supreme and state court cases the individual has never won. Notably, the Supreme Court STATED about the responsibility of police for the security of your family and loved ones is "You, and only you, are responsible for your security and the security of your family and loved ones. That was the essence of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in the early 1980's when they ruled that the police do not have a duty to protect you as an individual, but to protect society as a whole."

    "It is well-settled fact of American law that the police have no legal duty to protect any individual citizen from crime, even if the citizen has received death threats and the police have negligently failed to provide protection."

    Sources:

    7/15/05 SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES No. 04-278 TOWN OF CASTLE ROCK, COLORADO, PETITIONER v. JESSICA GONZALES, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NEXT BEST FRIEND OF HER DECEASED MINOR CHILDREN, REBECCA GONZALES, KATHERYN GONZALES, AND LESLIE GONZALES
    On June 27, in the case of Castle Rock v. Gonzales, the Supreme Court found that Jessica Gonzales did not have a constitutional right to individual police protection even in the presence of a restraining order. Mrs. Gonzales' husband with a track record of violence, stabbing Mrs. Gonzales to death, Mrs. Gonzales' family could not get the Supreme Court to change their unanimous decision for one's individual protection. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN FOLKS AND GOVERNMENT BODIES ARE REFUSING TO PASS THE Safety Ordinance.

    (1) Richard W. Stevens. 1999. Dial 911 and Die. Hartford, Wisconsin: Mazel Freedom Press.

    (2) Barillari v. City of Milwaukee, 533 N.W.2d 759 (Wis. 1995).

    (3) Bowers v. DeVito, 686 F.2d 616 (7th Cir. 1982).

    (4) DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, 489 U.S. 189 (1989).

    (5) Ford v. Town of Grafton, 693 N.E.2d 1047 (Mass. App. 1998).

    (6) Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. 1981).
    "...a government and its agencies are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen..." -Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. App. 1981)

    (7) "What makes the City's position particularly difficult to understand is that, in conformity to the dictates of the law, Linda did not carry any weapon for self-defense. Thus by a rather bitter irony she was required to rely for protection on the City of NY which now denies all responsibility to her."
    Riss"Police have no legal duty to respond and prevent crime or protect the victim. There have BEEN OVER 10 various supreme and state court cases the individual has never won. Notably, the Supreme Court STATED about the responsibility of police for the security of your family and loved ones is "You, and only you, are responsible for your security and the security of your f

  • by dereference (875531) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @08:18PM (#27461475)

    I did have to call them to, my truck was broken into, I was actually surprised they finger printed when they were obviously dealing with a junky stealing stereo's for a fix.

    If I were a cynical type, I'd suggest that perhaps they were just taking that as an opportunity to collect your fingerprints.

  • by ErkDemon (1202789) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @09:09PM (#27461765) Homepage
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Arpaio#Conflicts_with_local_news_media [wikipedia.org]

    Arrest of Phoenix New Times executives

    In October 2007, Arpaio's deputies arrested Village Voice Media executives and Phoenix New Times editors Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin on charges of revealing grand jury secrets. In July 2004, the New Times had published Arpaio's home address in the context of a story about his real estate dealings, which the county attorney's office is investigating as a possible crime under Arizona state law. A special prosecutor served Village Voice Media with a subpoena ordering it to produce "all documents" related to the original real estate article, as well as "all Internet web site traffic information" to a number of articles that mentioned Arpaio. The prosecutor further ordered Village Voice Media to produce the IP addresses of all visitors to the Phoenix New Times website since January 1, 2004, as well as what websites those readers had been to prior to visiting. As an act of "civil disobedience,"[68] Lacey and Larkin published the contents of the subpoena on or around October 18, which resulted in their arrests the same day.[69] On the following day, the county attorney dropped the case after declining to pursue charges against the two.[70] The Attorney General's office has since been ordered to appear before Judge Ana Baca due to missing documentation - including the original grand jury subpoenas - in the case file for the investigation of the New Times publication.[71]

    In other words, the subpoena was so outrageous that the recipients published it, and the law enforcement authorities then "lost" their copy. For a document like that to go missing intentionally would be criminal on so many levels that I'm not sure where to start. It also means that the editors can try to justify their "act of civil disobedience" by saying that they knew that the justice department was crooked, and was likely to illegally destroy its own incriminating documentation (even when that documentation has been signed personally by judges), and that publication was the only way to ensure that the document used against them could be preserved for potential future legal investigation.

    It certainly sounds crooked. It's not good when reading an online newspaper article about a potentially crooked policeman leads to a subpoena demanding that the newspaper give your IP address to the police department involved, so that they can investigate you as a potential trouble-maker.

    Apparently, reading a newspaper article about police corruption can make you a legitimate target for police investigation these days. Goodbye freedom of the press, and goodbye the citizen's ability to read about the news on their PC in their own home without the police looking over their shoulder and monitoring what they're reading.

    It'd seem that the editors probably realised that the subpoena was the bigger story, and that the Justice Department did too, which is presumably why someone there illegally destroyed or "relocated" the document.

    I was also struck by the case listed where the parents of a mentally handicapped man asked for police help to remove him from a store, the police took him away and put him in a restraint chair, then the guy then mysteriously died from a massive methamphetamine overdose. It sounds like someone in that local police force is killing people and trying to make the deaths look like junkie deaths.

  • Re:Backfired! (Score:5, Informative)

    by hot soldering iron (800102) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @11:03PM (#27462393)

    You forgot the other option: There wasn't any warrant issued. I happened to "see" a raid executed several years ago without a warrant (in Dallas). When we asked to see it, the cop in charge said,"Don't worry, we'll have one by the time we get to the jail." I spent 4 days in a holding cell before being released with all charges dropped against me. My friend wound up in court with a disbelieving judge catching the arresting cops in lies, and who dismissed the whole case after 15 min of police testimony. It still cost my friend several months and thousands of dollars for his lawyer to prepare a defense.

    That absolutely killed ANY trust in the legal system (there is no JUSTICE in it).

  • by witherstaff (713820) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @02:48AM (#27463409) Homepage
    It's marked funny but it just happened because the person, when asked why he had 4 grand in cash responded "Am I required by law to tell you?" [youtube.com]. It was caught all on tape, amusing and sad at the same time.

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