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Arizona: Come for the Grand Canyon, stay for the Grand Jury...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by jgmacg, Oct 19, 2007.

  1. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    ...and be stripped of your Constitutional Right to Free Expression!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/19/business/media/19cnd-arrest.html?hp

    http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2007-10-18/news/breathtaking-abuse-of-the-constitution/

    Terrible story. Worth wading through though, if only to get a sense of where local authoritarianism leads.
     
  2. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Re: Arizona: Come for the Grand Canyon...

    Wow. That is stunning. The beauty is, when you try to illegally bully an alternative newspaper with the force of the law behind your illegal bullying, the newspaper has the balls and the forum to fight back by going to print. How many people get bullied like that and have no power to publish?

    The one thing that wasn't explained by any of that... And it really has me baffled... What about what they did can possibly be construed as illegal? If I get a grand jury subpoena, there is nothing in any law anywhere that says I can't march over to the local newspaper, give them a copy to print and go on the record with my thoughts about what a vindictive witch hunt it is. There is just nothing illegal about it. In fact, it's a rite of American passage. The people prohibited from talking about a grand jury proceeding are the prosecutor, the jurors and the stenographer. That is it. If this bully sheriff doesn't finally get yanked because of this, I don't know what authorities are waiting for. And is this more proof that the grand jury system is a farce. It is legal authority for people who abuse power to go on witch hunts, with the expectation that they are under no oversight. This is America. We shouldn't be doing things in secret.
     
  3. Jersey_Guy

    Jersey_Guy Active Member

    Re: Arizona: Come for the Grand Canyon...

    Technically printing the sheriff's home address on the Internet is illegal under Arizona law. That's what's allowed them to do this, although it's clearly unconstitutional and clearly an abuse of power.

    This is probably the most blatantly anti-American act against a newspaper in my lifetime. If you think that's hyperbole, examine the case closely and remember that two editors were in jail this morning. In most states, this would be a career-ender for the sheriff and the DA, but as a former Arizona resident, I have serious doubts anything will happen to them.
     
  4. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Re: Arizona: Come for the Grand Canyon...

    Shit. I came here first before visiting their website. We've been made!
     
  5. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Re: Arizona: Come for the Grand Canyon...

    This paper does a lot of good work; however, it's never really lost that juvenile, stick-their-tongue-out taunting of its targets. It's not enough to take on a politician or government agency like serious journalists, you have to spit on them as well. This retaliation is massive overreaction, but it was incredibly stupid, irresponsible and unnecessary to print the home address of a law-enforcement official even if someone, with enough digging, could have found it elsewhere. On basic principle I hope New Times wins this fight, but I maintain my distaste for some of what they do.
     
  6. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Re: Arizona: Come for the Grand Canyon...

    Identification of Police Officers, Sheriffs, Troopers and up the departmental food chain is and should be illegal.
    That stated. Prosecutors, backed by the heavy-handedness of a grand jury, have long since used broad brushes in investigating breeches of law. It is part of their warrant -- literally and figuratively.
    The grand jury probe, in this case, is to see if a person of interest or an enemy of the Sheriff viewed the the Sheriff's personal information. Setting free convicted criminals with a compass to a law enforcement agent's home and family is not our duty as journalists. It is illegal.
    If the scope of the grand jury subpoena and investigation stopped there, I would have absolutely no problem with the document search. But, it doesn't.
    They use this well-intentioned law as a shield in a peripheral investigation into the practices of the Newspaper Execs. Now, that is a problem.
     
  7. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    A Sheriff is an elected official. This is different from a police officer. When they file their petition to be on the ballot, this information has to be somewhere to establish that the candidate is a resident of the district.
     
  8. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    So, a Sheriff is not a law enforcement agent?
    Because that is the term that decides legality. The definition also encompasses prosecutors and district attorneys.
     
  9. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    We know the information was available elsewhere; the New Times story says so. But what is the purpose of printing it in large-readership venue beyond harassing the sheriff by making it easier for people to annoy him at home?
     
  10. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Here's a precis from Gawker, for those who don't want to wade through the longer version of the stories:

    http://gawker.com/news/a-chilling-effect/village-voice-media-execs-released-from-jail-312878.php

    The co-founders of New Times, now known as Village Voice Media*, were arrested last night ("led away in handcuffs," according to their press release), at their homes in Phoenix, AZ, on misdemeanor charges related to revealing details of a grand jury investigation. Mike Lacey, the company's executive editor, and Jim Larkin, VVM's CEO, revealed in a story published yesterday in the Phoenix New-Times, that the paper is the target of a grand jury investigation stemming from a long-running feud with mercenary county sheriff Joe Arpaio. A few hours later, they were in the pokey themselves.

    Reports in the New-Times over more than a decade have detailed Arpaio's backroom dealings, his mistreatment of prisoners under his watch and his general scuminess. Prisoners at his county jail get only two meals a day, must wear pink underwear, and live in tents outside the jail where they work seven days a week in chain gangs, digging graves for the indigent.

    An investigation by county prosecutors into the paper's reporting began when New-Times published Arpaio's home address on its website in 2004. A little-known Arizona statute dictates that it's legal to publish the home address of a law enforcement agent in print, or on the radio or television, just not on the Internet; when the print article was uploaded to the New-Times website, prosecutors pounced.

    Lacey and Larkin's "first joint byline" in 40 years of working together came after the two decided the special prosecutor leading the investigation was operating outside ethical boundaries—according to Lacey and Larkin's piece, he had made ex parte advances toward the judge and subpoenaed "all documents" related to the paper's stories, as well as analytical information on the Internet activities of the paper's entire web audience, including IP addresses and "contents of electronic shopping carts." All you people who've bought that bestselling "How To Assassinate a Maricopa County Sheriff" are in big trouble now!

    "In our deliberations, we faced the obvious: A grand jury investigation is a fearsome thing; a tainted grand jury is a tipping point," Lacey and Larkin write. "We intend now to break the silence and resist." They did so with the 5,000-word piece and were answered with a night in jail; they were released early this morning on $500 bonds.

    New Times was born out of Kent State rage, and we're pretty sure Lacey and Larkin, while not wild about the whole jail thing, are kind of loving fighting the man again, though Lacey had enough decorum (shocking, really) to tell off reporters outside the jail: "The problem is that it takes me being arrested for you guys to show up. This is a story we're all involved in. Those subpoenas are what you should be writing about."

    The Village Voice's editor, Tony Ortega, knows something about Sheriff Joe Arpaio; while a reporter at the Phoenix New-Times, he investigated the sheriff's abuse of prisoners, and had this to say about his bosses' arrests: "I hope that, whatever other journalists think about the Voice or VVM, they can see that this represents one of the worst abuses of a newspaper's first amendment rights in memory," he told us. Gotta say, we can't disagree with that.
     
  11. Stone Cane

    Stone Cane Member

    horrifying, chilling stuff

    gives ya that ol' helpless feeling in your gut
     
  12. Roscablo

    Roscablo Member

    This whole thing is horrifying. What might be even worse than the newspaper's freedoms being trampled on is the fact that they subpoenaed the Web users for the past three years. Whether they looked at the stories or not. Nice job Arizona law people.

    It does look like they have retreated, though:

    http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/1019new-times1019-ON-CR.html
     
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