Maybe California law enforcement DID screw up in the iPhone probe.
TechCrunch’s Jason Kincaid just talked to San Mateo Deputy DA Stephen Wagstaffe, who said that the DA is now re-evaluating the shield law defence and that the iPhone investigation is now on hold.
This suggests that the DA’s office may well have violated the shield law (or at least thinks it did in hindsight). This would be excellent news for Gawker Media.
With respect to the removal of Chen’s property, Wagstaffe says that the prosecutor on the case felt that the shield protection laws did not apply, so the raid was executed. However, after Gizmodo’s attorneys suggested some reasons why they believe Chen should be protected, the investigation has come to a bit of a pause. The DA will now reevaluate whether those shield laws do apply, and will not begin going through Chen’s possessions until they’ve reached a decision in the next few days.
When I asked if it was typical for the DA to evaluate the relevance of these shield laws after removing evidence, Wagstaffe did concede that it was unusual. Which makes the situation extremely odd— it should have been readily apparent that Gawker would defend its actions using this shield law defence, why put the brakes on after the fact?
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