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Ninth Circuit 3 judge panel rules against Josh Wolf
We have a press release on a 3 judge panel of the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of appeals ruling against Josh Wolf, the San Francisco journalist/blogger, who was held in contempt of court for not giving his otuakes and testimony to a Federal Grand Jury.
For Immediate Release September 11, 2006
Ninth Circuit Panel Rules Against Independent Journalist
Josh Wolf Remains Free On Bail
SAN FRANCISCO - September 11, 2006. After only one week of deliberation, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals September motions panel returned an unpublished ruling denying journalist Josh Wolf's appeal.
Although the ruling is a perceived as a set-back, Wolf and his attorneys remain hopeful that the case will eventually be decided in his favor. Wolf and his legal team are currently reviewing the possible options available to Wolf, including an En Banc appeal to the entire 9th Circuit Court or a direct appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
“This particular three judge panel of the 9th Circuit went out of its way in a footnote to say that California law would not protect Wolf because he was not employed by or connected with any official news agency, despite the fact that California courts disagree and have interpreted their own law to protect bloggers the same as the corporate media’s journalists,” said Carlos Villarreal, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area.
The panel consisted of Circuit Judges Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, Susan P. Graber and Richard R. Clifton. “In a second footnote they continued to narrow any potential protection for journalists by making a distinction between public demonstrations versus confidential sources and concluding that even if Wolf had a confidential source the powers of the grand jury still carry more weight than the rights of a free and independent media,” said Villarreal. “This panel was obviously very hostile to free speech protections.”
Wolf feels that “these attempts to decimate the state protections afforded to journalists are shameful and I hope the Federal Courts recognize the importance of a free press. I feel that Thomas Jefferson said it best when he wrote, ‘were it left for me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.’ Just as the founding fathers deemed it necessary to explicitly recognize the rights of the press in the 1st amendment; it is high-time that our federal courts stand with the constitution and do the same.”
Wolf remains out on bail pending the final decision by the 9th circuit and plans to continue to speak out about this issue.
Court documents and past news articles can be found at http://joshwolf.net/grandjury/