Memo to Bloggers: Beware and Stand Up

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.

11 thoughts on “Memo to Bloggers: Beware and Stand Up

  1. Rage Judicata

    And what if this sort of thing is a peculiar subject that would interest our readers? You say in one breath to not waste the bandwidth on peculiar issues, but in the next tell bloggers to write about this type of thing.

    I agree this is more than worthy of coverage, but what makes you think you’re able to dictate the content of others’ blogs? Yes, you’ve been doing it a while and sure, you have the neat badges on the side of the screen that say people think you’re doing it well, but if every blog covered the same material it would grow old quickly.

  2. SHG

    I wouldn’t bother with that moron either.  Amazing how tough children can be on the internet.

  3. SHG

    Yes, it’s off topic.  I don’t see how it relates at all to this post. 

    That said, I’m not a supporter of tenure, the right ot professors to be sloppy and bizarre and to hide behind academic freedom, or their right to indulge themselves while on someone else’s payroll.

  4. Rumpole

    My question does not relate to this post, that is why I prefaced it with the statement that it is off topic.

    I was going to send you a private email but then I realized that, as a blogger, you might prefer that I submit my request via a public comment rather than a private email.

    I wanted to know your thoughts on the Ward Churchill case becasue you have an ability, as demonstrated throughout your blog, for seeing the reality of a situation. I,in contrast, am sadly lacking in this ability.

    I think law school can be determintal to a lawyers’ ability to perceive reality. Law school trains us to see both sides of an argument but in the process our powers of judgment can atrophy and our ability we to perceive reality can be impaired.

    Thanks again for this blog.

  5. SHG

    I just don’t want people to start thinking I’m going to answer questions.  I get a lot of them around here.  As for seeing clearly, it’s more likely that I’m just old and crazy enough to answer honestly.  I’m past the point where I need to sugar coat things.  And thanks for reading.

  6. Trusted.MD Network

    Phoenix Police Raid Blogger’s Home

    In April, 2008, an anonymous blogger started a website, Bad Phoenix Cops, and a companion blog, Bad Phoenix Cops: We intend to share all the ineptitude and lies within the Phoenix Police Department under Chief Jack Harris and his management…

  7. Jaguar

    “It is outrageous that a ‘police misconduct’ blogger should be subject to search.”

    So, what, he’s supposed to get a free pass simply because he blogs critically of the police? Because he blogs that makes him somehow incapable of committing a crime? There’s a blogging exception to the Fourth Amendment?

    Pataky is suspected of a felony. That seems to be conveniently overlooked in all of this handwringing.

  8. SHG

    You’re referring to the heinous crime of felony harassment of the police by saying mean things about them on his blog?  No one overlooked it.  We’re just as impressed as you.

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