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Mon Jul 9 2012 Lawsuit Settles with UC Regents Over 2009 Improper Arrest, Jailing, & Seizure of Photos
David Morse, a veteran independent journalist and long-time member of the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center (Indybay) has settled his lawsuit over the University of California - Berkeley Police Department’s (UCBPD’s) improper arrest, imprisonment, and seizure of journalistic materials during a student demonstration he was covering as a journalist. In exchange for Mr. Morse’s agreement to dismiss the lawsuit, the University of California Regents have paid $162,500 and have agreed to modify UCBPD policies and procedures regarding acceptable means of seeking materials from a journalist or anyone possessing materials with an intent to disseminate to the public and have also agreed to conduct extensive training sessions for UCBPD officers regarding protections for journalists under federal and state law.

UCBPD officers arrested Mr. Morse while he was covering a demonstration on the UC-Berkeley campus on December 11, 2009. Mr. Morse was making news photographs of a march on the UC-Berkeley campus, in which some participants caused damage to the exterior of the Chancellor’s house and other property, when UCBPD officers arrived at the scene. Mr. Morse identified himself as a journalist, and offered to show the officers his press credentials. UCBPD officers instead immediately detained and then arrested Mr. Morse and seized his camera, telling Mr. Morse that they wanted his camera because they believed it contained evidence of a crime. Mr. Morse was charged with attempted arson of an inhabited structure, vandalism, participation in a riot, attempted burglary, threatening a university official, and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon against a police officer. His bail was set at $132,500.

As part of this settlement, the UC Regents agreed:
  • To revise and update its policies and procedures concerning protections for journalists mandated by the federal Privacy Protection Act (“PPA”), California Penal Code § 1524(g), and California Evidence Code § 1070, including:
    • Acknowledging that the PPA’s protections apply to both traditional media outlets and new technologies such as the internet, and protects individuals even if not associated with a media outlet;
    • Acknowledging that the PPA requires the use of a subpoena, rather than a search warrant, to obtain unpublished journalistic materials;
  • To mandate that all UCBPD officers – current and future – undergo training on the revised and updated policies and procedures regarding journalistic protections;
  • To pay a total of $162,500 to Mr. Morse and his attorneys.
pdfRead More | Californian Journalist Wins $162,500 Settlement For Unlawful Arrest | Previous Coverage: Indybay Reporter Files Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Against UC Police | Indybay Reporter Succeeds in Quashing UCPD Search Warrant | Eight Arrested at UC Berkeley After Concert and March

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