Last Friday night, California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team entered editor Jason Chen's home without him present, seizing four computers and two servers. They did so using a warrant by Judge of Superior Court of San Mateo. According to Gaby Darbyshire, COO of Gawker Media LLC, the search warrant to remove these computers was invalid under section 1524(g) of the California Penal Code.
The search warrent says it all really:
Here is Gawker Media's legal response:
Sam Diaz has more on this story here.
Chen is a journalist - and that immediately puts the validity of the warrant into murky waters. In the legal response to the warrant issued by Gawker, the parent company of Gizmodo, the company is calling for immediate return of the items seized, saying that they fall into the protections granted to journalists.
In countless legal cases, law enforcement officials and courts have tried to get journalists to reveal their sources in the name of justice - even going so far as to jail them for failing to comply with court orders. The very idea that law enforcement officials would break down the door of a journalist to obtain information about a protected source goes against the heart of the First Amendment and protections granted to members of the press.