Thumbs down: San Francisco police run amok

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If you start your morning with TV news, it’s people like Bryan Carmody who stay up all night to provide you with on-the-spot coverage of overnight happenings in the Bay Area. You won’t see Carmody on camera, but he’s a working journalist entitled to the legal protections of California’s shield law. So why did he wake up last Friday morning to the sound of San Francisco police pounding on his door with a sledgehammer? Apparently he embarrassed them.

Carmody obtained a police report detailing the final hours of the life of Jeff Adachi, the longtime San Francisco public defender who died earlier this year. The report contained unflattering details about drugs, alcohol and a woman companion who wasn’t Adachi’s wife, and some suspected that police had leaked it. Carmody hasn’t disclosed his source, nor is he obligated to do so.

Police obtained a search warrant and took the report, along with cameras, computers, hard drives and other equipment from Carmody’s home office while he was handcuffed. California’s shield law, which voters placed in the constitution, allows reporters to protect their sources, and state law prohibits the use of search warrants to get at information protected by the shield law. So how did that happen here? No one is saying. Thumbs down.

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