It’s axiomatic that the pen is mightier than the sword. But the sword still hurts, and don’t ever forget it.
From Carlos Miller at Photography is Not a Crime :
Phoenix police raided the home of a blogger who has been highly critical of the department. Jeff Pataky, who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, said the officers confiscated three computers, routers, modems, hard drives, memory cards and everything necessary to continue blogging.
Maricopa County Judge Gary Donahoe gave the cops a search warrant for Pataky’s home to seized evidence of the crime of harassment. He was harassing the cops but disclosing inside information about them. Any chance there’s a Judge Donahoe around your neck of the woods?
Packratt of Injustice in Seattle wrote about Pataky’s search on March 25, ahead of the pack again. Like a bunch of citizen bloggers who try to keep track of police misconduct and spread the news, having themselves been the victim and wanting to make sure that it does not go unnoticed, he takes a risk. He’s been threatened. He’s been harassed. He’s been told that they will get him for what he’s doing.
They got Pataky. Hardly a death blow, but enough to make things unpleasant. It’s apparently just added fuel to Pataky’s fire, but then, perhaps they will make the next blow more painful.
Those of us who practice criminal defense see our exposure and discussion of police misconduct as a professional imperative. We aren’t afraid, as we do this day in and out, as a matter of our professional choice. Regular citizens don’t. They take significant risks by doing what they are doing, and every once in a while can anticipate being the subject of an aggressive police response, like Pataky.
At the very least, there are two things we need to do. First, is recognize that these bloggers are taking a very real personal risk by speaking out on the subject of local police misconduct and appreciate their bravery. Second, make sure that we are doing everything we can to support their efforts, whether by being available for their defense or simply spreading the word about outrageous police conduct directed against those who seek to expose misconduct. Let the police know that we are watching them as well, and that if they attack a blogger for writing, their misconduct will be exposed as far and wide as possible.
For those of you obsessed with blogging so that you can seek out new business and impress as many drunk drivers as possible with what a great job you will do for them, put aside the hype machine long enough to do something useful. For those who focus only on the peculiar issues that seem to interest your readers, you can spare the bandwidth to do something for the greater good.
It is outrageous that a “police misconduct” blogger should be subject to search. It is outrageous that the blawgosphere doesn’t raise hell about it. Let’s put this bully pulpit to use for the greater good once in a while. It won’t kill you. This Phoenix raid should have been the subject of a post by every criminal defense lawyer blawger across the country this week. Our silence was disgraceful.