Lawyers Guild Hopeful, Strong Free Speech Decision Possible
SAN FRANCISCO – One three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted bail to Josh Wolf – the independent journalist and blogger who was jailed August 1st for refusing to turn over video footage to a federal grand jury - only to have a separate panel revoke bail in mid-September.
Since Wolf's jailing a number of organizations besides the National Lawyers Guild have voiced support for Wolf and condemnation of the Federal Government. This month the Society For Professional Journalists made a donation of $30,000 to his defense. The ACLU and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have both filed amicus curiae on behalf of Wolf. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, led by Ross Mirkarimi and Tom Ammiano, also adopted a resolution this month urging the passage of a Federal Shield Law and condemning the federal government's actions in the Wolf case. The resolution charges that the grand jury is an "attempt to circumvent the local judicial system," since the crime being investigated involves an alleged attack on a San Francisco police car.
"The original bail order provided some vindication and we remain cautiously optimistic about what the Ninth Circuit en banc will ultimately decide," said Carlos Villarreal, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area. "We are hopeful that the justices are going to consider the importance of a free and independent media, especially when journalists are covering free speech activities."
Josh Wolf was ordered in contempt by Federal Judge William Alsup on August 1st. The US Attorney's Office, led by Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Finigan, wants Wolf to testify before a federal grand jury and hand over a video tape of a protest that occurred in San Francisco's Mission District last July.
Court documents and past news articles can be found at http://joshwolf.net/grandjury/