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National Lawyers Guild press release on Josh Wolf

by deanosor (from lists) (deanosor [at]
The National Lawyers Guild has issued a press release and press confernece annoucement on the case of Josh Wolf It is below:
For Immediate Release July 31, 2006
Attack on the Free Press Continues
Hearing in Federal Court Tuesday, Independent Journalist Faces Jail time

SAN FRANCISCO - Judge William Alsup may find video journalist Josh Wolf in contempt Tuesday as Wolf continues to fight a Federal Grand Jury subpoena. The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) believes that the grand jury is being improperly used to obtain materials that would normally be protected under California’s Reporter Shield Law.

The civil contempt hearing is scheduled for August 1st at 9 a.m. before Alsup. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote later that day on a resolution condemning the actions of the Federal Government in the Wolf case and the NLG will host a press conference at 1 p.m. on the East side of San Francisco City Hall (Polk Street).

In addition to the National Lawyers Guild, several other organizations have recently come forward to support Wolf. On July 19, The Society For Professional Journalists made a donation to Wolf’s defense and the French organization, Reporters Without Borders issued an international press release this morning, July 31. The ACLU and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have both filed amicus curiae on behalf of Wolf.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and Tom Ammiano have also introduced Resolution 061086: Resisting the Federal Government’s Intervention in a San Francisco investigation which will be voted on by the Board of Supervisors at the 2PM meeting on August 1.

The US Attorney’s Office, led by Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Finigan, are attempting to force Wolf to testify before the grand jury and hand over a video tape of a protest that occurred in San Francisco’s Mission District last July.

The use of federal grand juries to target journalists and political activists who are critical of the repressive domestic and international policies of the United States government is an attack on democratic, free speech activity. The implications of Josh Wolf’s case go well beyond a single journalist or protest. “Like the Judith Miller case or the BALCO case this is about the government’s ability to take an independent and free press and treat it as an investigatory arm of the government,” said Carlos Villarreal, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area. “The people of California have made it clear through our shield law that we prefer a free press that doesn’t have the government constantly looking over its shoulder.”

California’s shield law, according to a recent court decision on the matter, “is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news.” In that decision, the California Court of Appeals in San Jose confirmed that the law protected internet bloggers just as it protected corporate news reporters. Federal protections are not as strong.

“People protesting or on strike for better wages or marching for amnesty should feel free to do so in front of journalist’s cameras, just as they should feel free to talk to journalists,” said Wolf. “A free press benefits all of us,” he said.

Court documents and past news articles can be found at

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