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Indybay Feature
Sun Feb 11 2007
SF Liberation Radio Goes Head-to-Head vs. FCC
Ninth Circuit Court Convenes on UC Berkeley Campus to Hear Oral Arguments
Three years after it was raided by armed federal marshals, SFPD and FCC agents, SF Liberation Radio will have its day in court on Wednesday, Feb. 14th, in a special federal court session convening on the UC Berkeley campus. SFLR, through counsel Mark Vermeulen and other pro bono attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild, will argue that the federal government violated the station’s first amendment rights when it obtained a warrant for the seizure of the equipment through a back-door, ex parte procedure. The US Government utilized a maritime law to conduct the raid without giving advance notice to the station, arguing that a radio station is literally 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 on Twin Peaks, San Francisco, 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 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 seize a radio station's equipment, even when the station's lawyers had explicitly requested notice if such action was contemplated. This hearing could affect how the rights of other microradio stations challenging FCC regulations are observed, or not, in the future. Details
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