Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Arizona police versus free speech

Arizona v. Pataky

Citizen Media Legal Project
Posted April 9th, 2009 by David Ardia

Threat Type: Criminal Date: 03/09/2009
Legal Claims: Harassment; Theft

Party Issuing Legal Threat:
State of Arizona, Maricopa County

Party Receiving Legal Threat:
Jeff Pataky

In March 2009, Phoenix police raided the home of Jeff Pataky, a blogger who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, a blog that has been highly critical of the Phoenix Police Department. According to The Arizona Republic, Pataky's home was raided by ten Phoenix police officers who handcuffed his girlfriend for three hours while they conducted the raid. "We have heard internally from our police sources that they purposefully did this to stop me," Pataky told the Republic. "They took my cable modem and wireless router. Anyone worth their salt knows nothing is stored in the cable modem."

The search warrant lists petty theft and computer tampering with the intent to harass as potential crimes. Pataky, who was away on a business trip when the raid occurred, says he has yet to see an affidavit that explains why they had probable cause to conduct the raid.

The search warrant provides little insight into what police believe Pataky has done. It does, however, mention repeatedly that police were to search for personal correspondence between Pataky and "Dave Barnes." According to The Arizona Republic, Barnes is a former Phoenix homicide detective who went public in 2007 with claims of mismanaged evidence at the city's crime lab. In May 2009, Barnes' home also was raided by police due to his alleged "involvement in what some officers perceived to be a connection to a blog critical of the police leaders," the Republic reported at the time.

Carlos Miller, who runs the Photography is Not a Crime Blog, is reporting that Pataky recently filed a lawsuit over the raid, which netted three computers, routers, modems, hard drives, memory cards and everything necessary to continue blogging. Pataky told Miller that he has not let the raid stop him from blogging, however, "They thought they were going to scare us into a corner but they just made us stronger."