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|SFLR argues before Ninth Circuit|
|Date||Wednesday February 14|
|Time||9:30 AM - 12:30 PM|
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|SFLR vs. FCC: Head to head, oral arguments! February 14, 2007, 9:30 AM, Booth Auditorium at UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall, located on Bancroft Way at College Ave. / http://www.berkeley.edu/map/maps/DE67.html )|
|Event Type||Court Date|
A photo ID will be reqired to enter the courtroom-auditorium. http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/
Finally, after three years of waiting, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral argument from lawyers representing long time media activist San Francisco Liberation Radio.
SFLR was raided in October, 2003 when federal marshals, SFPD and FCC agents stormed into the home where the station was located, with guns drawn, and seized SFLR’s broadcasting equipment in order to prevent SFLR from broadcasting. SFLR will argue (through its counsel, Mark Vermeulen, and other pro bono lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild) that the federal government violated the station’s and its listeners’ First Amendment rights when it obtained the warrant for the raid and the seizure of the equipment through a back-door, ex parte procedure. In civil seizure cases (as opposed to criminal cases), fair notice and a hearing before a judge typically must take place before any raid can go forward. This is especially true where First Amendment free speech rights are involved. However, here, the US Government here utilized a maritime law to conduct the raid without giving advance notice to the station, arguing that a radio station is like a ship that may sail away in the night.
The station, with a volunteer staff of nearly 60 people, was located in a house firmly rooted upon land and posed no danger of trying to “escape,” nor was it interfering with any other station’s broadcasts. It had been broadcasting at 100 watts in San Francisco for 11 years and had been in consistent contact with the FCC regarding licensing matters. The Court will decide whether the government has the right to obtain from the District Court an ex parte order to raid a radio station, and seize the equipment even where as in SFLR's case, the station's lawyer had explicitly requested notice if such action was contemplated. This hearing is the next step in three years of legal proceedings in this case, and may well affect how the rights of others challenging FCC regulations are observed (or not) in the future.