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FIRST AMENDMENT PROJECT NEWS



JULY 6, 2011

FIRST AMENDMENT PROJECT LEADER DAVID GREENE TO JOIN HOLME, ROBERTS AND OWEN MEDIA PRACTICE GROUP

 

                 The First Amendment Project has announced that its Executive Director and Staff Counsel David Greene has accepted a position with the San Francisco office of law firm Holme, Roberts & Owen, effective August 1.  Mr. Greene will be a Senior Counsel at the firm and work in the firm’s Media, Entertainment and Advertising practice group.  “David is one of the finest First Amendment lawyers in the country,” said FAP Chairman Clinton Fein.  “We’re thrilled for him and the new opportunity this gives him to continue to advance the causes that he has led throughout his career, for freedom of expression and information, and to work for the journalistic and artistic communities.”  Mr. Greene has been with the organization as staff counsel and Executive Director since 1999.

                 The First Amendment Project is a non-profit organization that provides legal advice and representation for journalists, activists and artists.  Its website calls it “the only nonprofit organization in the country dedicated to providing free legal representation exclusively on free speech and free press issues.” 

                 Founded in 1991, it specializes in Freedom of Information, Public Records, open government, artistic and advocacy expression and defense of what are known as “SLAPP suits,” or lawsuits filed against people for speaking out on matters of public interest.  FAP and Greene have received numerous local and national awards for their legal advocacy.


                 Greene will continue to play a major role with the FAP. He will remain as Executive Director on a volunteer basis while FAP undergoes a planning process for his successor.  Greene will also continue his involvement in FAP’s caseload, as several clients are expected to ask the HRO firm to join as co-counsel in cases he has worked on at FAP.  Discussions regarding for which clients and cases HRO will serve as co-counsel are ongoing.  FAP Founder and Senior Counsel James Wheaton, assisted by Law Fellow Lowell Chow, will continue to oversee all of FAP’s cases, regardless of whether  HRO  joins as co-counsel.

                 “This continues to be a vital time for First Amendment rights,” said Fein,” and FAP’s work will go on.”  Fein noted that although the organization will begin looking for a new Executive Director, “it will also take this occasion in its 20th anniversary year to step back, survey the landscape for what FAP has done well, new freedom of expression challenges emerging as a result of rapidly developing telecommunications technologies, where FAP could expand its services and how it can best continue to serve its constituent groups.  We’ll take the next few months to invite all of FAP’s supporters and constituencies to think and give us feedback on how we can best position FAP for the next two decades.”

 

PRESS RELEASE

JAUNUARY 2011

FAP IS OFFERING INTERNSHIPS - A GREAT EXPERIENCE IN LITIGATION AND EDUCATION!!!

JANUARY 5, 2011

The First Amendment Project is seeking 1L or 2L students to assist with its litigation and education efforts. FAP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the fundamental civil liberties of freedom of speech, of the press and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. FAP provides legal and educational resources in these areas to its core constituency of activists, journalists and artists.

NOVEMBER/ DECEMBER 2010

Prominent Authors, Television Writers Offer Character Names, Book Group Packages
To Raise Money For First Amendment Project In eBay Charity Auction


http://3.ly/fapauction

Character Name in the Showtime Hit Series “WEEDS” Among Items Up For Bid Auction Starts November 26; Runs Through December 20

                 
Thirty prominent authors, representing a variety of literary genres, are offering the winning bidders the chance to have their names included in works of fiction in a charity auction launching on eBay on November 26, 2010. Participating authors include Jenji Kohan, the creator of the Showtime series “Weeds”,Andrew Sean Greer, Ayelet Waldman, Ben Katchor, Chris Ware, Dan Chaon, Dan Gutman, Dave Eggers, Derek Haas, Elinor Lipman, Francine Prose, Jane Smiley, Janet Burroway, Joshua Ferris, Kevin J. Anderson & Rebecca Moesta, Lorrie Moore, Margot Livesey, Mona Simpson, Nami Mun, Patrick DeWitt, Phillip Margolin, Rick Moody, Robert Mailer Anderson, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, Stacey D’Erasmo, Stuart Woods, Suzanne Brockmann, T Campbell, Thomas Perry, Vendela Vida and Walter Kirn. In addition, authors Laura Benedict and Lisa See are offering “book club packages,” in which they supply multiple copies of one of their books and make a telephone call to the group.

The auction is a benefit for First Amendment Project, the Oakland, CA-based nonprofit organization that provides free legal services on public interest free speech and free press issues.

In addition to the character name, the winning bidder in the “Weeds” auction will receive a signed copy of the pilot script, the box set of DVDs of the first five seasons of the series and a “Weeds” baseball cap.

Among the other opportunities available at the auction, which can be found at http://3.ly/fapauction include the chance to be an FBI agent or a stripper with a heart of gold in the next entry in Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series; a villain or a victim in Thomas Perry’s next entry in the Jane Whitefield series, a wounded World War I soldier or drunken Bohemian in Andrew Sean Greer’s next novel, as a character in a new musical by Janet Burroway, or a character in a cartoon series by Ben Katchor, Chris Ware or T Campbell. Young adult authors Dan Gutman and Kevin J. Anderson are offering character names in the next entries in their Baseball Card Adventures and Star Challengers series, respectively.


This is the third character name auction for First Amendment Project. The first two auctions, held in 2005 and 2006, earned over $170,000 for the organization.

The authors speak:

“First Amendment issues are centrally important to anyone who writes for a living! I have struggled a little bit with censorship issues as regards my own work, and I have seen it with others. The First Amendment Project is one of the premier organizations for combating this censorship, and the auctions are a clever and funny way to drum up support for the work.” Rick Moody

“There's nothing more dangerous to freedom than silence -- whether it's enforced by law or fear or poverty -- or crushing legal expenses.  The First Amendment Project helps give voice to those who otherwise might be silenced, and I'm proud to stand beside them.  As a writer, I know the true strength and importance of words.  Words are more powerful than any weapon because as long as we can write and speak freely, ideas like freedom and justice will never die.” Suzanne Brockmann

“As a science fiction writer, I like to push ideas, stretch my imagination, provoke people to think along new paths. That frightens others who like to believe they have the [only] way.  Unfortunately, some of those people are in positions of power and try to enforce their opinions as law.  We need staunch groups to stand up against those agendas and let people have their say.  It’s the only way the truth can keep getting out.”  Kevin J. Anderson

“Everything I do--everything this country is about--depends on the First Amendment.” Francine Prose.

“All I can really say is: I would not exist as a writer without the First Amendment. Period.” Stacey D’Erasmo

“The First Amendment protects the most basic and important of our freedoms, the right to think freely and express our thoughts and beliefs to others by speech, press, petition, or assembly.  Deserving the First Amendment requires that we use it and defend it.” Thomas Perry

“I feel lucky to live in a country that allows me to read, talk and  write freely. The First Amendment is what makes that possible. Almost every week an event somewhere in the world reminds me not to take this precious right for granted” Margot Livesey

“It's not hyperbole to say that it's the best amendment in the history of civilization.” Elinor Lipman.

Conducting the charity auction is Auction Cause, a premier online auction management agency specializing in high impact and high value eBay charity auctions for nonprofits and their corporate partners. Auction Cause also conducted the 2005 and 2006 auctions.

 

NOVEMBER 2010

ANOTHER VICTORY FOR FIRST AMENDMENT PROJECT

As the only nonprofit provider of free and low-cost public interest First Amendment legal services in the country, First Amendment Project is often a last line of defense for its clients. Still, some cases throw the need for FAP’s services into especially stark relief.

Several months ago, FAP received a call from a severely physically disabled woman in a government-run long-term care facility. She had no assets whatsoever and no one to whom she could turn. A year prior, she had alleged to government hospital and law enforcement personnel that a nursing assistant responsible for her care had sexually assaulted her. The nursing assistant was investigated and his employment terminated. Just before the statute of limitations ran out, the nursing assistant sued the woman for defamation.

FAP filed an anti-SLAPP motion on the woman’s behalf on the basis that her statements to law enforcement and hospital officials were absolutely privileged under California law.

Last week the Court agreed, granted the motion and dismissed the case.


JUNE 2010

COURT QUASHES SEARCH WARRANT, ORDERS UCPD TO RETURN VETERAN JOURNALIST'S NEWS PHOTOGRAPHS

  • Photographer Was Newsgathering During UC Berkeley Chancellor House Protest
  • Search Warrants Against Journalistic Work Product Expressly Barred By California Law
  • UC Sought to Use Images to Investigate and Discipline Student

Oakland - On Friday, June 18, an Alameda County Superior Court judge quashed an illegal search warrant issued for the unpublished news photographs of veteran photojournalist David Morse. The court also ordered the return of all of Morse's photographs, including any copies made by the University. The court also ordered the University to declare under oath what agencies received copies of the photographs, if any.

Morse has covered hundreds of demonstrations and other events since 2002. He was arrested and his camera searched in connection with a protest he was covering at UC Berkeley on December 11, 2009. The charges were dropped at Morse's first court appearance, but not before a search warrant had issued for his unpublished photographs. The California Penal Code prohibits the issuance of search warrants for unpublished journalistic materials.

Although the UCPD police report more than once referenced Morse's repeated assertions that he was a journalist, officers omitted this crucial fact in the sworn affidavit they filed with the court in support of the search warrant. Thus the judge who issued the search warrant had no indication that Morse was reporting for a news organization at the protest.

The Alameda County District Attorney did not oppose Morse's motion and indicated that no criminal investigation is pending. The University opposed the motion, arguing that it had an interest in using the photographs to investigate students for disciplinary purposes. The University also argued that it could continue using copies of Morse's photographs even if the warrant was deemed illegal.

The court rejected these and the University's other contentions.
Morse was represented by First Amendment Project on a pro bono basis.

D. MORSE PRESS RELEASE 6.21.10

MEMO OF P AND A IN SUPPORT OF EXPARTE MOTION TO CONTINUE HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH

DEC OF E. BEHREN IN SUPPORT OF EXPARTE MOTION TO CONTINUE HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH

MEMO OF P AND A IN OPP TO UC MOTION TO CONTINUE HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH

DEC OF D. MORSE IN OPP TO UC MOTION TO CONTINUE HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH

DEC OF G. KING IN OPP TO UC MOTION TO CONTINUE HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH

DEC OF M. AGUILAR OPP TO UC MOTION TO CONTINUE HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH

RESPONDENTS OPP TO MOTION TO QUASH

DEC OF C. MANCHESTER IN SUPPORT OF RSPNDNTS OPP TO MOTION TO QUASH

DEC OF N. MILLER IN SUPPORT OF RSPNDNTS OPP TO MOTION TO QUASH

REPLY MEMO IN SUP OF D. MORSE MOTION TO QUASH

DEC. OF G. KING IN SUP OF REPLY MEMO TO QUASH

DEC OF S. ROSENBAUM IN SUPPORT OF REPLY MEMO TO QUASH

DEC OF D. MORSE IN SUPPORT OF REPLY MEMO TO QUASH

ORDER TO QUASH SEARCH WARRANT AND RETURN PROPERTY

                                                                               

APRIL 2010

FIRST AMENDMENT PROJECT IN ACTION

California, like many states, has a law that prevents search warrants being issued against journalists. These laws were mostly passed in the wake of a 1978 Supreme Court opinion in which the Court found that the First Amendment does not prevent a search warrant from being executed against a journalist, states were free to grant journalists such right by statute. The federal government passed its own version of the law as well, the Privacy Protection Act of 1980.

Why offer journalists this protection? The answer is simple: Journalists cannot do their job of informing the public if those who they are covering believe that the journalist is gathering information that will be readily available to law enforcement.

In December of 2009, David Morse, a respected and veteran independent photojournalist was arrested while covering the student protests at the Chancellor's House on the UC Berkeley campus. The details of his arrest are a story in its own -- perhaps we'll cover that in a future email update -- but what is most important now is that as he was being detained and ultimately arrested, he identified himself as a journalist to the UC police officers no less than 6 times, repeatedly offered to show his press credentials and did after several hours get a commanding officer to look at his press credential. Nevertheless, Morse was arrested and his camera was seized as evidence pursuant to his arrest.

The charges against Morse were ultimately dropped. But while he was still in custody, the police obtained a search warrant that enabled them to view the photographs on his memory cards.

The search warrant affidavit -- which is essentially the application for the warrant the police present to the judge -- made no mention of Morse being or even claiming to be a journalist.

First Amendment Project is representing Morse. Just last Friday, we filed on Morse's behalf a motion to quash the search warrant and have Morse's memory cards and photographs returned to him. A hearing is scheduled for May 11.

Press Release (D.Morse)

Motion and Memorandum of Points and Authorities (D.Morse)

Declaration of David Morse

Declaration of Geoffrey King

Declaration of J.T. Johnson

Declaration of Mary Radcliff
Declaration of Peter Maiden

JAUNUARY 2010

FAP IS OFFERING INTERNSHIPS - A GREAT EXPERIENCE IN LITIGATION AND EDUCATION!!!

JANUARY 16, 2010

The First Amendment Project is seeking 1L or 2L students to assist with its litigation and education efforts. FAP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the fundamental civil liberties of freedom of speech, of the press and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. FAP provides legal and educational resources in these areas to its core constituency of activists, journalists and artists.

DECEMBER 2008

Some of our Victories in 2008:

  • FAP represented the sponsor of a traffic safety initiative who was sued by his local government as he tried to gather enough signatures to have the initiative placed on the ballot
  • FAP represented a local environmental activist who was sued for slander by a commercial landlord for a quote in a newspaper article about a controversy over the eviction of an environmental justice nonprofit
  • FAP represented a campaign pamphleteer and helped him defeat a lawsuit that tried to prevent him from handing out flyers about a candidate in the days leading up to the election
  • FAP advised the producers of the documentary "Citizen McCaw" and helped them respond to threats of litigation from the subjects of the film
  • FAP represented a woman who was sued by her former surgeon after she reported his misconduct to the state medical board
  • FAP defended a lawsuit against a woman by her condominium’s management company after she created a website and shared information about the mismanagement of the building


JULY 2005

FIRST AMENDMENT NEWS -- VICTORIES, ACTIVITIES, AUCTIONS AND BLOGS!!!
July 29, 2005


FAP represented Katherine Lopez, an elected member of Barrio Logan Community Planning Group, an organization created by the City of San Diego to offer community input in all decisions of the San Diego Planning Department. Ms. Lopez was sued for defamation after sending an email urging members of her community to testify before the community planning group if they had any concerns about the way the developer of a proposed residential complex treated his existing tenants. In her email she related some of the concerns that had already been reported to her, including alleged threats to undocumented tenants. Ms. Lopez's conduct in encouraging others to participate in the community planning group process was classic petitioning conduct protected by both the First Amendment and California Civil Code 47. FAP obtained a voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit after informing plaintiff's counsel that an anti-SLAPP motion would be immediately forthcoming.

[Read more]

MARCH 2005

FIRST AMENDMENT VICTORY -- JUDGE DISMISSES RACKETEERING SLAPP SUIT
March 24, 2005


Upholding the First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances, a federal district judge Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed against a Big Bear Lake environmental activist by a San Diego-based developer. Sandy Steers, a resident of the community of Fawnskin, had been sued by Marina Point Development Associates under the federal Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a law designed to root out mob activities. Marina Point claimed that Ms. Steers conspired with officials of the U.S. Forest Service to "derail" the project by urging various governmental agencies to enforce laws to protect bald eagles in the area.

[Read more]

FEBRUARY 2005

FIRST AMENDMENT PROJECT UPDATE
February 10, 2005


Does the First Amendment go too far? Disturbing Results from Survey of Students and Educators
FAP Launches Redesigned Website
Case Profile: Activist Sued as Racketeer

[Read more]

--The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution



First Amendment Project is a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition.

FAP provides advice, educational materials, and legal representation to its core constituency of activists, journalists, and artists in service of these fundamental liberties.

1736 Franklin St., 9th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612


Phone: 510.208.7744
Fax: 510.208.4562
www.thefirstamendment.org

 







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 Imagery ? Copyright 2005 Clinton Fein. All rights reserved.
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