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District Attorney Critiques Gizmodo Emails In iPhone 4 Prototype Case 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the stay-classy dept.
lee1 writes "After the police broke in to a Gizmodo editor's home and collected emails from computers found there as part of the investigation of the stolen 2010 iPhone prototype, the San Mateo District Attorney's office petitioned the court to withdraw the search warrant, because it violated a law intended to protect journalists. Nevertheless, the DA, rather than apologize for the illegal search and seizure, issued a critique of the seized emails, commenting that they were 'juvenile' and that 'It was obvious that they were angry with the company about not being invited to ... some big Apple event. ... this is like 15-year-old children talking.''"
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District Attorney Critiques Gizmodo Emails In iPhone 4 Prototype Case

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  • First post! (Score:4, Funny)

    by prxp (1023979) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @04:03PM (#37725684)
    What about that for "juvenile"!
    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @04:05PM (#37725696) Homepage

      What about that for "juvenile"!

      Less 'juvenile' than the DA's behavior. And that's pretty sad.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)
        I made a comment a few weeks ago about how judges who were Apple fans should be recused from patent cases because of the seemingly 'religious' lack of objectivity. Perhaps I didn't go quite far enough. It certainly takes some of the amazement out of how their getting the sale of Samsung products banned.
      • IS NOT YOU POOPYHEAD!
      • by antdude (79039)

        Heh, they should see my juvenile e-mails. [grin]

      • Gizmodo is part of Gawker Media which is *the* company for tabloid scumbag 'journalism', in my opinion (and many others) so yeah fuck them. Gawker sites have consistently proven to be unprofessional and immature. More companies need to ban them from events until they can act like journalists since that's what they pretend to be.
  • lawsuit (Score:3, Troll)

    by shoehornjob (1632387) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @04:08PM (#37725708)
    Coming any minute for the way they treated him and seizure of non related materials. Someone forgot to tell the DA that when an Apple employee leaves a prototype phone in a bar or resturant it's usually just to hype the newest Idevice.
  • by manekineko2 (1052430) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @04:13PM (#37725724)

    What are the chances of the government going to such lengths if an ordinary person gets robbed? The ordinary response from police is that's nice, we'll look into it if we have nothing better to do. The crimes they were alleging are not different than the crimes that would be applicable if this were to happen to an ordinary person instead of a powerful corporation.

    And then, the chutzpah of the DA's to call out the Gizmodo editors (who may or may not have deserved it) after conducting an illegal search...

    • by iamhassi (659463)

      And then, the chutzpah of the DA's to call out the Gizmodo editors (who may or may not have deserved it) after conducting an illegal search...

      Illegal according to who? The guy that wrote the article? [eff.org] Jason Chen had stolen property and the police are perfectly within their rights to search for that property, the reason some people are calling it "illegal" is because they believe journalist are above the law: [eff.org] "it violated California Penal Code section 1524(g)'s prohibition against the issuance of warrants for "unpublished information obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public.""

      EFF

      • Gizmodo stopped being protected by any journalism shield the moment they actively participated in theft of private property. There also appears to be evidence of malicious motives on their part. I don't see journalism anywhere around this case.

        • I don't see journalism anywhere around this case.

          Especially since it involves Gizmodo...

        • by snowgirl (978879) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @07:09PM (#37726712) Journal

          Gizmodo stopped being protected by any journalism shield the moment they actively participated in theft of private property.

          Just as a note here, purchasing a stolen good is not the same as being accessory to the theft. Usually, purchasing a stolen good is only punished by forfeiture of the item (without any refund). Yes, knowingly purchasing stolen goods (which Gizmodo clearly did) can be treated more harshly but it apparently has to have a value of more than $5,000 (convenient selling price you used there Gizmodo...)

          But still, in order for the act to be accessory to the theft, the theft would have to be done at the request of the purchaser. As this was clearly a theft of opportunity, Gizmodo could have not participated in the theft, but rather only committed a separate crime. (And likely not even then, because the value wasn't high enough.)

          • by flosofl (626809)
            Actually in CA I believe it is considered being an accessory if you know it was not obtained legitimately.
            • by snowgirl (978879)

              Actually in CA I believe it is considered being an accessory if you know it was not obtained legitimately.

              Eh... after reading an article online, I could see a DA cooking up a story for why it fits. Short of a non-competent lawyer, or strong case law, I don't see it holding up so well, since there are specific laws describing the criminal act that was committed (receiving stolen property). Also, theft of an item of about $500 value (as the value was when it was stolen) is probably not as strong as receiving stolen property of a value of $5000 (established by how much they paid for it.)

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          > Gizmodo stopped being protected by any journalism shield the moment they actively participated in theft of private property.

          You could use that sort of excuse on any serious investigative journalist that ever published Pulitzer worthy material.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Gizmodo stopped being protected by any journalism shield the moment they actively participated in theft of private property.

          Gizmodo was never journalism, it's part of the gawker network, which was created to produce ad impressions by producing misleading, often downright inaccurate content that people will argue about. Anyone posting any of their "articles" (which are just blog entries in disguise, since they contain no new information, just a little commentary on a link) to any other site is a Stupid McToolbag who should have read down to the bottom, followed the link there, and shared that.

      • I don't think its theft, if you call the company, and try to return it, multiple times.... (they were trying to get apple to confirm it was one of their phones)

        • by Duradin (1261418)

          Demanding a ransom is not trying to return it.

        • by iamhassi (659463)

          I don't think its theft, if you call the company, and try to return it, multiple times.... (they were trying to get apple to confirm it was one of their phones)

          That's what they claim, but if they were really trying to return the phone why did the police have to get a search warrant? They could have just called the police and said they found a phone they would like to turn in.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Illegal according to the San Mateo DA's office [eff.org]. It would seem that the EFF and the DA's office are in agreement on that one.

        EFF is interpreting the law incorrectly, I'm pretty sure having a press pass doesn't mean I get to steal your stuff and laugh at the police when they come looking for it.

        Citation needed! Where do you see that anybody with a press pass stole anything at all from Apple? We know that Chen bought the phone from someone that said he found it in a bar and then contacted Apple to return it to them.

        • by iamhassi (659463)

          Illegal according to the San Mateo DA's office [eff.org]. It would seem that the EFF and the DA's office are in agreement on that one.

          EFF is interpreting the law incorrectly, I'm pretty sure having a press pass doesn't mean I get to steal your stuff and laugh at the police when they come looking for it.

          Citation needed! Where do you see that anybody with a press pass stole anything at all from Apple? We know that Chen bought the phone from someone that said he found it in a bar and then contacted Apple to return it to them.

          No where does it say the search was illegal, all it says is the search warrant was withdrawn and the items returned. "withdrawn" does not mean "illegal", and the only reason it was withdrawn is because Chen agreed to cooperate with investigators [businessinsider.com]

          If some guy showed up at my house with a prototype 2014 Mustang test mule and said "I'll sell it to you for $$$$$$" I can't buy it and tell the police to shove off just because I have a press pass, it's still stolen property.

          eff.org are trolls, you need to pick

          • by sjames (1099)

            No, but you can buy it and call Ford telling them you found their missing car. The part that counts is that you attempt to return it to the proper owner.

            Why would the DA withdraw the warrant rather than just not exercise it unless the warrant was questionable? They wanted to kill it so if anything went to court they wouldn't have to waste resources defending the indefensible.

            EFF.org have never shown signs of trollishness.

        • by iamhassi (659463)

          Citation needed! Where do you see that anybody with a press pass stole anything at all from Apple? We know that Chen bought the phone from someone that said he found it in a bar and then contacted Apple to return it to them.

          and you're putting far too much trust in Jason Chen. If he really wanted to return the property he could have called the police himself, but he waited until the police showed up at his front door to get it. If you find something that you know does not belong to you you should try and return it and if you can not then you call the police and let them handle it. What was he going to do, just keep the phone indefinitely? The fact that the police had to come searching for it makes his whole story sound unbe

          • by sjames (1099)

            He contacted Apple himself rather than the police. That's fairly common when you find yourself in possession of someone elses property and you know how to contact them (that or stick it in a lost and found box). The burden of proof is on the accuser.

    • The crimes they were alleging are not different than the crimes that would be applicable if this were to happen to an ordinary person instead of a powerful corporation

      Uh, yes they were. The potential damage caused by the phone getting out could have reached into the millions. That's the sort of thing where Motorola goes "Hold the launch of our next phone and put in a ... uh.. whatever a Retina Display is!"

      It's fun to poo poo Apple and all but before you start crying 'unfair treatment' you need to think about why anybody would pay 5k for a phone to begin with. Just the ad-views alone on a blog site were worth that.

      • You do know the CIA commits crimes daily against Europe/Asia, in helping USA corps win contracts and beat competitors right.

        Who cares if moto got the phone, it takes months and months to prep factories to make large quantities of orders. Besides apple didnt invent the LCD, they just ordered it from LG.

        • You do know the CIA commits crimes daily against Europe/Asia, in helping USA corps win contracts and beat competitors right.

          So?

          Who cares if moto got the phone, it takes months and months to prep factories to make large quantities of orders.

          All they'd have to do is announce it sooner.

          Besides apple didnt invent the LCD, they just ordered it from LG.

          They just ordered it from LG and took a big gamble in doing so. A competitor would pay quite a bit to.... why am I explaining that a stolen prototype of a highly anticipated product causes financial damage that exceeds $600 by a large margin? I really can't wait until this stupid flame war subsides.

    • So you think Apple shouldn't get special treatment (though really you can't prove they have) but you think some scumbag blogger should get special treatment and be above the law when it comes to purchasing stolen property?
    • by Syberz (1170343)

      Kinda ironic that at the same time there's another story on Slashdot about a guy who got his Macbook stolen and the police won't do anything about it even though he has the thief's IP.

      Again we have proof of the preferential treatment given to corporations. This is the type of shit that the Occupy protesters are trying to bring attention to.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    rather than apologize for the illegal search and seizure, issued a critique of the seized emails, commenting that they were 'juvenile'

    Everyone does that.
    At a formal meeting with participants from multiple departments or with customers/vendors, everyone is professional. After the meeting while you are walking to the elevator or calling your immediate co-workers to duiscuss the details, you comment on everyone else was clueless, "those guys" are a bunch of fucking idiots, what where they thinking etc... Wha

    • by The0retical (307064) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @04:37PM (#37725844)

      Granted everyone makes those types of comments however the problem with this situation is that you have an official from an agency established to serve the tax payers deriding one of their constituents to a journalist on record.

      There is such a thing as discretion and this DA just stick his foot in his mouth because this is going to be thrown back at him. Hopefully there will be consequences when the next elections come around and constituents finally decide that they cannot have their rights further eroded.

    • by Sun (104778)

      You say that to your co-workers, in private. You do not go on record saying that to a reporter.

      Shachar

    • I don't. where I worked they stressed we could be under court order to produce any documents in our possession relating to a case and not to be stupid with email. I would never email something like that out. That would be stupid if it ever came out in court.

  • by metamatic (202216) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @04:24PM (#37725782) Homepage Journal

    Next you'll be telling me bears defecate in forested areas.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As of late, that's been the direction Gizmodo has been heading. I used to visit there site all the time, now they're just obnoxiuos.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That is all.

  • by theodp (442580) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @04:40PM (#37725858)

    "I don't know if Apple is on the [REACT] steering committee," Stephen Wagstaffe told Yahoo! News [yahoo.com] when asked about a link between Apple and the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT) Task Force that entered Jason Chen's home and seized four computers and two servers as evidence in a felony investigation. Documents revealed that Apple did indeed sit on REACT's steering committee [flickr.com], which provided 'direction and oversight' to the law enforcement agency.

  • Since when does ones quality of writing play into if you are 'the press' or not? Scary precedent here.

  • Whether you agree with the reasoning behind it or not, and in spite of the fact that it was later withdrawn because it was illegal, the police served a search warrant on a Gizmodo editor's home, they didn't break in. Pretending those are the same is one of the things that makes having a conversation about truly illegal searches and seizures so difficult in the US. If they have a search warrant you blame the judge that issued it, not the police who executed it.
    • It's a matter of perspective: If you disagreed with what the police did, it's "breaking in." If you agree, then it's serving a warrant. Also this tidbit:

      It turns out that prosecutors concluded that neither Chen nor Gizmodo did anything wrong after all. Legally, that is. Speaking to CNET.com earlier this week, San Mateo County District Attorney Steven Wagstaffe said that there was not sufficient evidence to charge anyone associated with the tech site with "possession of stolen property" or "extortion."

      There is a difference in the DA not having enough evidence to proceed further and the Gizmodo not doing anything wrong. There are many cases where the DA has to drop the case for lack of evidence.

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        It turns out that prosecutors concluded that neither Chen nor Gizmodo did anything wrong after all. Legally, that is. Speaking to CNET.com earlier this week, San Mateo County District Attorney Steven Wagstaffe said that there was not sufficient evidence to charge anyone associated with the tech site with "possession of stolen property" or "extortion."

        There is a difference in the DA not having enough evidence to proceed further and the Gizmodo not doing anything wrong. There are many cases where the DA has

        • For the DA, saying "lack of evidence" is an easy way to avoid admitting that he was in the wrong. There is no doubt that the Gizmodo editors had the phone, and that they bought it. They knew how the seller got it. What possible more evidence is required?

          Since when? So when mobsters had their cases dropped because witnesses mysteriously disappeared, the DAs in those cases were in the wrong? Gizmodo is still sticking to their story they purchased the story and not the phone. What may have been lacking is proof that Gizmodo knew they were purchasing the phone and would use the "purchasing a story" angle if caught.

          • by whoever57 (658626)

            Since when? So when mobsters had their cases dropped because witnesses mysteriously disappeared, the DAs in those cases were in the wrong?

            A witness disappeared in this case? That's news to me and everyone else. As for "purchasing the story", how did they end up with the phone? The offence is "receiving stolen property", not "buying stolen property", and the only question is whether they knew it was stolen. Since Gizmodo published the whole story of how they got the phone, proving knowledge is not going t

            • Proving intent is the problem. Can the DA prove the Gizmodo knew that they were breaking the law and that they planned to cover their tracks by going with a "purchasing the story" defense. If Gizmodo had pre-planned it and the left evidence, it is far easier to convict.
              • by whoever57 (658626)

                Proving intent is the problem. Can the DA prove the Gizmodo knew that they were breaking the law and that they planned to cover their tracks by going with a "purchasing the story" defense. If Gizmodo had pre-planned it and the left evidence, it is far easier to convict.

                As I mentioned before, don't let the facts get in the way of your argument. I already pointed out that the "purchasing the story" question was irrelevant because the crime is receiving stolen property. Intent isn't required. What needs to b

                • As I mentioned before, don't let the facts get in the way of your argument. I already pointed out that the "purchasing the story" question was irrelevant because the crime is receiving stolen property.

                  Don't let the real world get in the way of your fantasy. In the real world, every DA cannot pursue every single case to trial. From misdemeanors to felonies, most DAs look for plea deals rather than trials. A DA has to balance whether he or she can win a particular case as whether to pursue. The DA has many facts on his side; the problem is that Gizmodo can present a defense here that might make it difficult to win a conviction.

                  Intent isn't required. What needs to be proven are 3 facts: That the article was stolen, that the recipient knew it was stolen and that the recipient did receive the article. See intent in that list? See anything about buying the article? So, as I pointed out earlier, the "purchasing the story" defense is no defense.

                  The problem you don't seem to understand that having facts on your side do

      • by Asic Eng (193332)

        There are many cases where the DA has to drop the case for lack of evidence.

        And the only ethical thing the DA can do in these cases, is to shut up about it. Simply because nobody has to prove they are innocent - it's the prosecution which has to prove guilt.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      If they have a search warrant you blame the judge that issued it, not the police who executed it.

      Why should you blame the judge if the police/DA present him with faulty or incorrect evidence and justification for the search warrant? The information is given under oath, so there is no reason for the judge not to think the information is accurate. Really, what this comes down to is police acting as corporate enforcers, which is wrong and not what police are supposed to be doing. And for the record, I am very pro-police, especially for slashdot. However, it seems that recently police seem to keep shoo

  • I doubt he'll feel so smug when he's hit with a federal civil rights lawsuit and is disbarred. Hey a guy can dream can't he?
  • The DA illegally seized these emails, right? And prior to that illegal seuzure they were the privately held information of Gizmodo, right? So... he only knows about them because the law was broken, and now he's spewing their contents all over the press? If this doesn't violate some ethical standard, it should. I'd file an ethics complaint.
  • Seeing how using text speak seems to be standard operating procedure for high ranking goverment officials [arstechnica.com] . I would suspect "like 15-year-old children talking" would qualify you to hold a nice cushy post in goverment. Perhaps the goverment can look inward first before critiquing illegally seized evidence. Better yet why not just stop performing illegal search and seizures. Oh right, they are above the law, silly me.
  • ...the house wouldn't have been raided. Are we really saying journalists should be exempt from such laws but the government should be held to it? If I was going to pursue a career in politics for power, I'd drop it to go into journalism. Chen/Gizmodo bought stolen property when he should've been suspicious enough to know better. Fucking plain and simple. $5000 of stolen property to increase my advertising revenue 10x that? And the law is on my side about it? What a deal. Sorry, I'm not buying the demagog
    • "Had there not been a crime ... the house wouldn't have been raided."

      Your naïveté is almost endearing. Look, regardless of the merits (or otherwise) of this particular case, by that comment you exhibit an unreasoning and undeserved trust in the judiciary and law enforcement. The unfortunate truth is that illegal searches and seizures are made all the time on warrants filed in bad faith by police, or upon bad information. Or both. In this case, apparently, the warrant issued was later invalidate
      • by Chewbacon (797801)
        We are all posting our opinions here, perhaps I should put that disclaimer in my signature. But wow, what hasty generalizations you've made there! They point out your own winded naïveté. You just spend more time pointing it out than I do. I bet you're short of breath! Do you live religiously by what the media reports? You're obviously entertained by stories of police searches, use of police force, etc. Does that mean they're all illegal? Did you get busted for a DMCA violation? Do you think
  • I've had conversations with Gizmodo, IO9 and Kotaku's editors and writers in the past, "15 year olds" is a good way to describe their "professionalism".

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @07:12PM (#37726720)

    The emails were private. They were unlawfully seized. The DA takes those private, unlawfully seized emails and compounds the wrong by commenting upon them in the media in a derogatory way.

    He has absolute immunity for being a prosecutor, but he has no immunity for making stupid-ass statements based on illegally obtained information.

    This is an easy section 1983 case, albeit for limited damages. This stupid DA just cost his municipality a few thousand dollars.

"Consequences, Schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich." -- "Ali Baba Bunny" [1957, Chuck Jones]

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