Contempt of court hearing for freelance journalist continued
Josh Wolf, 24, faces a contempt of court charge brought about
by federal investigators purportedly interested in identifying
anarchists who may have been involved in torching a San Francisco
police car at a 2005 protest demonstration.
July 21, 2006
A federal contempt of court hearing which may send a San Francisco
freelance journalist to jail was continued yesterday until August
The U.S. Attorney's Office has asked that 24-year-old Josh Wolf
be held in contempt of court for refusing to surrender unedited
video to a grand jury.
Wolf could face jail time if U.S. District Judge William Alsup
issues a ruling of contempt.
The case stems from a 2005 protest demonstration videotaped by
Wolf. Portions of the video subsequently were broadcast by local
A San Francisco police car was set on fire during the demonstration
and local police sought unpublished portions of the tape for arson
After Wolf refused to surrender the entire tape, citing the California
Reporters Shield Act which precludes subpoena of unpublished material,
local police asked for federal intervention.
Federal law precludes such subpoenas in civil cases, but the
U.S. Attorney's Office contends that protection does not extend
to criminal investigations.
To justify federal entry into the case, prosecutors maintained
the local police car was manufactured from parts which crossed
Alsup asked prosecutors to consider granting immunity to Wolf
thereby overcoming Fifth Amendment objection that Wolfe has a
right to remain silent due to fear of prosecution. Alsup also
asked prosecutors to demonstrate why Wolf also is not right to
fear prosecution by lower California courts.
The judge also posed a challenging question for Wolf to consider.
"Since the press is constantly saying the public has a right
to know, why is the press constantly saying it has a right to
keep things secret?"
The hearing is scheduled to resume August 1 at 9:00 a.m.