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Archive for Sunday, January 6, 2008

Warrant sparks free speech concerns

Journal-World objects to disclosing identity of online user

January 6, 2008

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Search Warrant ( .PDF )

A local judge, the district attorney and the Kansas University police department are being roundly criticized by First Amendment advocates for a search warrant that sought access to online subscriber files of the Journal-World.

On Dec. 10, an investigator with KU's Office of Public Safety delivered a search warrant to the Journal-World demanding access to the newspaper's computer servers. The search warrant - applied for by the office of public safety, reviewed by the Douglas County district attorney's office, and issued by Douglas County District Judge Stephen Six - was seeking information about the identity of an individual who had posted anonymous comments on ljworld.com, the newspaper's Web site.

Investigators were seeking the identity of a poster with the screen name a2thek, who had posted comments related to articles about a Kansas University student who was found dead in an Oliver Hall dorm room. The poster had made comments indicating the death was heroin-related.

First Amendment advocates said the decision by local authorities to serve a search warrant on a media organization was troubling.

"Issuing a search warrant to a newspaper is completely inappropriate," said Mike Kautsch, a KU law school professor and former dean of KU's School of Journalism. "It is a way of chilling the process of gathering and reporting the news."

Journal-World leaders also objected, and said they were concerned that future searches could paint the Journal-World as an investigative arm of local law enforcement.

"What we see is that more and more frequently, law enforcement is scrutinizing the postings on our Web site and is attempting to use what we consider fishing expeditions to come after the identity of individuals," said Ralph Gage, director of Special Projects for The World Company, which publishes the Journal-World. "We do feel an obligation to the people who use that site to not be an automatic conduit for law enforcement."

A spokesman with KU's Office of Public Safety denied assertions that his organization had overstepped its bounds by seeking the identity of the anonymous poster, although he declined to provide specifics about why the information was needed. The spokesman said he could not comment because the matter was still part of an open investigation.

"Our job is to find out information, and if it is pertinent to the case we will attempt to get it in any legal manner that we can," said Chris Keary, assistant chief of the KU department.

Judge Six also declined to comment for this article.

Legal jousting

The Journal-World ultimately was not made to supply information regarding the identity of the poster. When presented with the search warrant, the newspaper was given the opportunity to call its attorney, who contacted the district attorney's office and the court to object to the search warrant. During that time period, the KU investigator left the Journal-World offices without executing the search warrant and did not return.

Bernard Rhodes - a Kansas City, Mo., attorney representing the Journal-World - said he believed the search warrant was issued contrary to a federal law that greatly restricts the ability of law enforcement to conduct searches of news-gathering organizations.

"Congress has determined that the First Amendment is emasculated by allowing armed law enforcement to come into a newsroom to gather whatever information they want," Rhodes said. "That is the type of practice you used to see in the old Soviet Union."

Rhodes said Congress in the 1980s passed a law - the Privacy Protection Act - that prohibits such searches of news-gathering operations.

But Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said it can be argued the law allows for searches related to the identity of an online user. The 1980 law, he said, didn't contemplate a world of online blogs and the role they could play in criminal investigations.

"The best thing I can say about the Privacy Protection Act of 1980 is that it needs to be revised," Branson said. "What it hasn't been able to do is keep up with the times. In 1980, they had no clue what a blog is and how it would operate. They didn't understand that people would basically be able to spray paint on it like a graffiti wall and move on."

Specifically, Branson said he did not believe an electronic file containing information about the identify of an online poster could be considered the "work product" of the newspaper. The Privacy Protection Act generally restricts the ability of law enforcement to execute search warrants for work products - reporter's notes, photographs, source documents and other similar files - but leaves open the possibility of search warrants for other types of documents or information a news organization may have.

"I think it is pretty uncharted ground right now," said Branson, who said the courts have not yet made a landmark ruling on how the Privacy Protection Act deals with online issues. "I think it will have to be brought to a head at some point in time and get the definitions updated so everybody knows what the rules are."

A prominent national media attorney, however, said the rules are clear enough now that local authorities should have known better than to pursue the warrant.

"I don't think an online poster is any different than a letter to the editor, and certainly a letter to the editor is covered under the law," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "There is no question in my mind that the Privacy Protection Act applies here."

Question of trust

The legal debate is producing high stakes for all involved, journalism and law enforcement leaders said.

Dalglish said it would be highly detrimental if search warrants are more frequently served on newsrooms.

"The media's job is to ensure that the public gets access to truthful information," Dalglish said. "If the media are viewed as an arm of government that just turns information over to the police, people will stop talking to the media. They'll think you'll just get them in trouble. It has that classic chilling effect."

But Branson, the district attorney, said prohibiting law enforcement from seeking the identity of online posters can hamper criminal investigations. Branson said he would never argue that law enforcement should have unfettered access to the information in media files, but said he wants a reasonable test to be created that would allow future searches when needed.

"We solve a lot of our cases because the person who committed the crime just had to tell somebody about it," Branson said. "They shouldn't get an 'olly olly oxen free' pass just because the person they told was an anonymous blogger."

Journal-World leaders, however, contend there are other ways for law enforcement to obtain the information. For example, the newspaper has twice been subpoenaed to provide the identity of online posters.

Once was during the arson/homicide trial related to the Boardwalk Apartment fire. During the trial, the Journal-World was subpoenaed to provide the identity of a poster who had previously had a conversation with the defendant about arson. The Journal-World found the request reasonable, Gage said, and did not object to the subpoena.

The other subpoena was related to a Web site user who had posted on an article regarding a federal investigation of the Yellow House, a Lawrence thrift store. The Journal-World ultimately complied with that subpoena after determining that it had no firm ground to oppose it.

But Gage said the subpoena process - unlike a search warrant - gives the newspaper a chance to go before a judge and object to providing the information. A search warrant gives law enforcement the right to immediately enter the premises and begin its own search.

Branson said he generally agrees that a subpoena would be a preferable method for getting information from a news organization. He said he's not sure why his office didn't do more to encourage KU investigators to use a subpoena rather than a search warrant. Keary, the assistant chief at KU, declined to comment on the issue.

Law enforcement, like all ljworld.com users, also has the ability to e-mail an anonymous user through the newspaper's Web site. In this case, the anonymous user - when reached by the Journal-World through the e-mail method - said police had not attempted to reach him in that manner.

First Amendment advocates said law enforcement should be made to exhaust such means before compelling news organizations - either through search warrants or subpoenas - to reveal the identities of sources or posters.

Scott Bosley, executive director of the American Society for Newspaper Editors, said he urges his members to be diligent in protecting the independence of the press.

"We feel like we have grounds to resist these searches, and we believe we should resist them as vigorously as possible," Bosley said. "If we don't, the ramifications will be that we lose the public's trust. Readers and visitors to our Web sites just would refuse to trust us, and we don't have much going for us other than the public's trust."

Comments

Bitterfalls 6 years, 9 months ago

It is not quite so simple. I assume that what the KU cops wanted was to see the server logs? And the log-in and registration e-mail address? Those things can be concealed even from the paper easily.

But I am glad to see the cops being a bit more pro-active in their investigations. So often all they do is read the paper to find out what happened, and then go try to make a case.

I am going to file a subpoena so I can find out who I truly am. That has got to be cheaper then a shrink.

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Bitterfalls 6 years, 9 months ago

Aren't a reporters sources a protected thing? Havnt there been cases where cops have tried and failed to get a reporter to reveal their sources? Valarie Plame comes to mind.

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freeordie 6 years, 9 months ago

I find it sad there are so few comments here and so many on something so irrelevant as same sex unions. No wonder are freedoms are gone.

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Linda Endicott 6 years, 9 months ago

Reporter's sources are supposed to be a protected thing...but many a reporter has spent time in jail for refusing to reveal their sources...

As for the forums here...oh, please...do the police really think anyone on here truly knows what happened to that student? Chances are the poster was just repeating a rumor someone else had started...and we all know how easily rumors can get started...

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classclown 6 years, 9 months ago

I don't think people commenting on an anonymous blog can legally be considered a reporter's source as some of you seem to be contending.

This could ultimately cause problems for all the people that boast about their illegal drug use on these boards. Or any other illegal activity no matter how trivial it may seem.

Cops are pretty lazy nowadays. Why not kick back reading blogs and pick them off one by one as people admit to their crimes?

How about employers demanding records to see who in their employ goofs off on the internet all day?

Many possible ramifications.

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ronwell_dobbs 6 years, 9 months ago

I don't think I would consider an anonymous poster to be a reporter's "source". However, I am glad to see LJW fighting this one.

A priori I acknowledge that there will be some on this forum that immediately besmirch my patriotism, but I think that law enforcement in this country enough, if not too much, power and access already. We sit back and pretend that our country is immune from becoming a police state, yet day by day law enforcement at all levels constantly ask for more and more power to fight the bogeyman of the day. Terrorist bogeymen have sufficed as the qualifier for the last 6.5 years. Urban gangs were before that. Probably next it will be Chinese cyberthieves.

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Frederic Gutknecht IV 6 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, but this is important stuff. What if this person knows something about someone who is already dead? We might be able to save that person by putting this lousy "knower" in jail until their disgusting self is released for not admitting to have committed some heinous crime!~) Everyone is a criminal, you know!

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Ragingbear 6 years, 9 months ago

This is a rerun. They did this a while back during the Boardwalk trials, remember?

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Flap Doodle 6 years, 9 months ago

marion, how many of your identities have been outed on various sites?

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monkeyhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

And I'll bet logrithmic was the first in line to vote for Branson.

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coneflower 6 years, 9 months ago

logrithmic:

Kudos for a great post.

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OnlyTheOne 6 years, 9 months ago

They were searching for something else. Otherwise they would've brought a subpoena which they were pretty sure the LJ-W would've honored but only given them the identity of the one individual. With a search warrant they'd have unlimited access to everybody......

So for whom among us are they looking?

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temperance 6 years, 9 months ago

Branson: "In 1980, they had no clue what a blog is and how it would operate. They didn't understand that people would basically be able to spray paint on it like a graffiti wall and move on."

I love being compared to a vandal. It makes me feel so streetwise.

@ its_getting_warmer: Exactly!

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maxcrabb 6 years, 9 months ago

Or you could just post with your actual name...

keeps you from saying things you don't mean or didn't think through all the way.

Anyway, have a great day!

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doc1 6 years, 9 months ago

They only have a problem with stuff like this until it's one of their kids who mysteriously dies. Then they would claim the cops don't do anything because of stupid whining like this. They did the search warrant by the book and no rights have been violated. If there is probable cause to believe someone has information about a death then it by gosh they BETTER be investigating that.

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bearded_gnome 6 years, 9 months ago

no comment by A2THEK? I guess he's under the thumbscrews and being waterboarded? or else, he's fled? sure took them long enough to put forth this subpoena.

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Haiku_Cuckoo 6 years, 9 months ago

If somebody has info on the young man's death, they should come forth. This "stop the snitching" stuff is for the birds.

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nekansan 6 years, 9 months ago

"As for the forums here:oh, please:do the police really think anyone on here truly knows what happened to that student? Chances are the poster was just repeating a rumor someone else had started:and we all know how easily rumors can get started:"

Actually posting on these forums led to a mistrial in the Jason Rose trial in order to bring evidence forward that a poster referred to in the forums. I find it funny that the LJW is suddenly acting like this is a new thing. In reality their own user agreement makes allowance for providing information that is compelled through a court order. While a reporter may not be required to reveal sources, the posting here are not a traditional journalistic story. They are more akin to a public forum, that while allowing free speech also requires the speaker to take responsibility for their words. Seems pretty simple to me. If you don't want law enforcement questioning you about what you said, don't do the online equivalent of standing on a corner with a bull horn. I suspect that people who do post such information here want to pass information to the public and by proxy LE. The court here did not ask a reporter to reveal any confidential source, they asked a public message board to reveal the source of a post in accordance with that forum's user agreement.

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yellowhouse 6 years, 9 months ago

well they also got warrants for the Yellow House posters.

This was not a murder trial. No children in danger, no shots fired no threats being made.

There were no charges even filed in the case at the time!

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monkeyhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

log Since you are protesting wildly in your usual nails on the chalkboard fashion, that is proof positive.

Besides, your endless rantings are indicative of which way you swing .............

"Of course, in the mind of the rightwing commierservative - "Don't confuse me with the facts; I've got my pea-brained mind made up!"

'Something is terribly wrong with RepubLICKlans.'

"As someone who has supported Boog, financially as well as politically"

"Guiliani - a political crime boss Romney - slick is too kind a word - weathervane is more like it Thompson - lobbyist/actor McCain - Angry person wrapped in stars and ribbons Hunter - Abramoff protege Tancredo - Scapegoating and detention centers Huckabye - Friendly Taliban Paul - Extreme libertarian"

"It is unfortunate that Schauner and Maynard Moody did not take their seats alongside of Boog Highberger."

"Where are the rightwingers? 458casul, Marion (the narc), Dumbudzo, Conservative, Godot, Bilgegrim, Blowhunter99, Plumbersbuttcrack, Sigmund, Consumer1 (name says it all), Monkeyhawk, 4thgradeeducation, Cowboy, Offtotheright, and others to many to name?"

So to think that you would ever vote for a republican would be the same as thinking that you would never post again on this forum. You impeach yourself with your triviality.

"It's a sad day when fools can make ignorant statements without any support." Unless, of course, it is you.

Thanks for playing!

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Nikki May 6 years, 9 months ago

But, DID they decide that was cause of death? If not, then why worry about someone saying it was. If so, I guess they want to find out who knew about the drugs. Either way, I don't see the point. Some people know people that USE drugs without knowing anything else.

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yellowhouse 6 years, 9 months ago

The police already had all the YH records that were seized during the 5 search warrants.

They could see by the records the YH was not running a theft ring. Someone making an erroneous annonomous statement they bought drugs or sold stolen property to the YH on a JW post is just slandering the YH.

Even with a freedom of speech, slander is illigal, however I doubt that looking out for the YH reputation was the reason the police were getting the identity of the poster!

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yellowhouse 6 years, 9 months ago

Seems to me if what the poster said was true and they can back it up, then what is the problem?

They exercised their freedom of speech to speak out, now they will be held accountable for what they said! Especially if the statement was slanderous or damaging to another persons reputation.

If the statement is not true, then its slander and again it is illegal and should not have been posted...anonomous or not.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

What about virtual stalkers? Should law enforcement have access to those suspected identities? if owner/moderators refuse to to take steps?

Blanket access without a very specific and substantial reason should be met with some apprehension. As this article points out law enforcement is not without tools to obtain information. LJW appears to have worked with law enforcement on occasion.

So KU law enforcement did not use the proper tool and many have asking for too much information?

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yellowhouse 6 years, 9 months ago

As far as constitutional rights, they are not automatic.

YH had a constitutional right to Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Yet 3 years later our property is still being held by LPD.

They had a Constitutional right to privacy, yet our home has been searched multiple times by LPD without using a search warrant!

THe constitution is worthless if people in power do not respect it!

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Sigmund 6 years, 9 months ago

Law enforcement has a duty to investigate criminal activity and to do so legally. DA's are charged to seek justice by presenting evidence to a judge or jury proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Defense attorneys challenge the reliability and validity of that evidence and the legality of the methods used to obtain it. Not a perfect justice system but a pretty good one, at least if you want society to catch and punished criminals while protecting individual rights.

Whether or not anonymous posters have an absolute right to keep their real identities from law enforcement who properly follow the law is well settled, they don't. The Boardwalk Apartment case is a good example. A properly issued subpoena that is not objected to and any specific information that the World Company has on you will be turned over, including all business records that Sunflower Broadband, Cablevision, LJW, and LJW Online have. Business records are not "reporters notes" nor "protected sources" and the LJW knows it.

This case is different than Boardwalk. A search warrant was issued and served allowing Law Enforcement to do their own search, not a request to turn over specific information. It appears the LJW objected to the method of obtaining the information and not to turning over the information itself. Whether or not the LJW would have turned over the information if served with a subpoena and not a search warrant remains unclear. What is clear is that the World Companies major concern here was in not being perceived as merely an arm of Law Enforcement.

But at the end of the day and once again this was a slippery slope that was not slid down and a night where black helicopters didn't silently hover. I doubt that will comfort logrithmic nor keep him from his dire predictions that the gulags are just around the corner. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get you and in the world of the paranoid and hysterical the fact an abuse did not happen is equal with evidence of abuses that did.

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yellowhouse 6 years, 9 months ago

Why did the Journal world not list the name of the person named on the Yellow House subpoena?

Shouldn't that be public record?

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texburgh 6 years, 9 months ago

Welcome to the brave new world of the Bush years. Warrantless searches, phone tapping, federal government access to our email, secret overseas prisons, denial of due process, fake news conferences, reporters on the government payroll, and on and on. Karl Rove's new American fascism is taking hold and too few people are complaining. Our slide into totalitarianism has gone so far that even Democrats have begun to accept it - take a look at our Douglas County DA's comments in the above article. Be afraid...be very afraid.

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Sigmund 6 years, 9 months ago

texburgh, what "secret overseas prisons" do you know about that are secret from the rest of us????

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toefungus 6 years, 9 months ago

Does anyone think this could also be eyed by the mayor? She should love to know who the people are that are calling for her resignation and offering more compete details on the Diptheria (sic) scandal. Since Branson is her buddy, along with the Chambers and Bonnie Lowe, the information on who the posters are could be useful in their attempt to control the public. Just wondering...

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texburgh 6 years, 9 months ago

I apologize - the administration was outed on the secret prisons some time ago; they are no longer secret, just accepted.

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yellowhouse 6 years, 9 months ago

The journal world has allowed themselves to be manipulated by Law enforcement.

They have been used as a crutch in the Yellow House store case to help police spark public backlash against the business.

Then when signs of Police corruption and misconduct in the case surfaced, and it became obvious the Yellow House had their rights violated, and the information that police were providing to the media was false.....

The Journal world stopped reporting stories about the case!

The Lawsuits, formal complaints, and ongoing internal investigations into official misconduct, associated with this case have not been made public by the Journal World

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Erin Parmelee 6 years, 9 months ago

I find it interesting how the majority of posters here elect to remain anonymous. Why is that?? Is it because it is easier to be nasty online to people when you're hiding your identity? I think it would be really interesting to see how this place would change when people had a name behind the handle.....

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Sigmund 6 years, 9 months ago

The President has the "inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes" at least if you believe President Clinton's Deputy Attorney General and later 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick. But that didn't happen here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrantl...

If you would quit your hysterical hyperventilating you might have notice that none the abuses you listed happened or are even are alleged to have happened here. In fact, Law Enforcement had the right to immediately execute the search warrant, but did not. Pretty wimpy Jackboot Thugs(tm) if you ask me.

How many people of been innocently convicted and executed under our system? Too many, but far fewer than under the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or any other system I am aware of. No system is perfect but I doubt they had a Innocence Project. But once again, that didn't happen here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innocenc...

So what did happen here? "Journal-World leaders also objected, and said they were concerned that future searches could paint the Journal-World as an investigative arm of local law enforcement." Did they object because they opposed turning over the information? "Journal-World leaders, however, contend there are other ways for law enforcement to obtain the information. For example, the newspaper has twice been subpoenaed to provide the identity of online posters."

In previous cases The World Company complied with the subpoenas. "The Journal-World found the request reasonable, Gage said, and did not object," and they complied again "after determining that it had no firm ground to oppose it." My guess is they will comply in the future if the request is reasonable or if they have no grounds to oppose it.

As for gulags or what you do or don't believe, I don't really care. As far as I can tell you are a angst filled nut job who believes insults and hysterical rants are persuasive and that people take you seriously. I don't and I doubt very few do.

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dinglesmith 6 years, 9 months ago

This is a case of the system working exactly as it should. The police and prosecutors have issued a subpoena that the LJW can challenge in court. No one is going in with guns or making threats. If the LJW chooses to fight the subpoena, it is absolutely their right to do so and no one is claiming otherwise. This is not the case in an unfortunately large part of the rest of the world.

Having said that, I think it will be very difficult to establish that the LJW's blog (which is what they themselves call it) is any different than any other blog simply because it is run by a newspaper. By posting this, I am certainly not becoming a source for a reporter.

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yellowhouse 6 years, 9 months ago

Can someone Please explain to me why Judge Six, a District Court Judge, has been the only Judge dispensing all the subpeona's and search warrants in the Yellow House FEDERAL Investigation, when this is supposed to be a FEDERAL Case?????

W.T.F??

Shouldn't oversignt of a FEDERAL case be done By FEDERAL Judges???

Something smells like a rat here!!

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monkeyhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

Better be careful, sig. You might push that log off the deep end. Then they will want your private info...

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Sigmund 6 years, 9 months ago

I believe that none of your questions are relevant to the subject matter of the of the article or my comments on it, that you are seriously mentally disturbed, that if you are on medication it should be adjusted, and that if you are "self medicating" you should stop.

I believe that you harass and bully those who have different views than you, that your ravings make the LJW online forums nearly intolerable, that you violate this sites use policies, and that any other Website your account would have been banned ages ago. http://www2.ljworld.com/site/rules/

As for your "three question" I believe that none of these issues were raised by this story. Be assured that if and when I post on stories that raise those issues I'll be most happy to discuss and support my positions at that time. But for now I simply refuse to be dragged into that important discussion while the rest of us are discussing something completely different.

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compmd 6 years, 9 months ago

Good job, LJW. I'm happy to see someone standing up against the stupidity of some legal "professionals."

This was improper, and everyone knows it. In the past subpoenas worked fine, and everyone was on the same page with them; there were no surprises. The combination of an incompetent ADA and an incompetent judge created a potentially explosive situation. What if the warrant had been executed? What information would be retrieved? How could the newspaper (or the public for that matter) be assured that strictly the information sought in the warrant was obtained? Instead of permitting the newspaper to supply the demanded information, why send an investigator to take it? This could have set a very negative precedent.

If the LJW wants to really fight back against this, they will file disciplinary complaints against Branson's idiot lackey and Six. I can't in good conscience place blame on KUPS because I really don't think they have much experience in the area of evidence retrieval and computers. However, a judge and an assistant district attorney should have known better.

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nekansan 6 years, 9 months ago

"The arguments put forth in this post shows in a nutshell how people like Hitler can rise to power. This poster says were all standing on a corner with a bullhorn and therefore should be subject to law enforcement harassment.

1) We are all wanting to be interviewed by the police for stating our political beliefs.

In a society grounded on the first amendment and on the freedom of speech, the very notion that one should not exercise their speech because of a fear of police harassment is exactly why the Founding Father's placed the first amendment in the Constitution.

To now see someone post that we should refrain from posting because Big Brother is watching us should serve to warn all of us that "Good Germans" live among us and willingly support the government in its abuse of our civil liberties."

Log..

This is no where near the same. Law enforcement had an obligation to investigate a statement of fact that may have a significance in any investigation. In this case, it is a death case and if the poster had relevant information it could cause the case to swing from accidental death, to manslaughter or worse. From the publicly available information that seems to not be the case, but LE cannon make that determination without investigation. This is not a situation of someone being prosecuted for expressing their political beliefs. If I say the President is a poor leader and has unnecessarily put the lives of Americans at risk through his foreign policy then I an expressing a political belief and fully believe that there will not be G-Men showing up at my door to question me. If however one were to make a threat against his well being, then I think there should be follow up and an investigation and should not be surprised to see the Secret Service show up to ask a few questions. Likening the KU police's investigation of a poster who made a public statement that they had material information regarding a undetermined death, to Hitler is just as irresponsible and simply borderline fear mongering. I get the whole slippery slope argument, but very very few of us live at the top or bottom of a hill, we're all on the slope somewhere. I don't think for a minute we should curtail our speech, simply that we must expect that when we do speak we should expect to have people hear it. If no one hears the speech which we are free to express, what is the point of making it in the first place? In this instance, speech was made, LE heard, and followed checks and balances by getting a court order to fully investigate the posters claims. It's exactly the way the founding fathers and the constitution meant for our government to work.

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Jason Bowers-Chaika 6 years, 9 months ago

freeordie (Anonymous) says:

I find it sad there are so few comments here and so many on something so irrelevant as same sex unions. No wonder are freedoms are gone.

Dears, our constitution and all of it's amendments are important. Our freedoms are going away because we let them in the form of things like the blinkin' "patriot act". Our freedoms are as of yet not even realized due to discriminatory laws banning marriage equality which in and of themselvs are unconstitional.

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nekansan 6 years, 9 months ago

"The J-W is recognized nationwide for cutting-edge online newspaper technology, so they "got it" about the impropriety of this little misadventure. But would a paper that is much smaller or which has much less experience with online publishing have understood the difference between things like a warrant and a subpoena? Would they have been as protective of the users as the J-W? I really, really doubt it."

What did the JW really do? File an injunction? Sue the DA's office? Anything at all to actually permanently stop the release of this information? No, they screamed and whined real loud, and the DA backed down for now. Big effort! Try asking them more substantive questions like how many other times have they turned over similar information without so much as a peep? The blending of media make the law here fuzzy. Yes the Journal World is a newspaper, but not all of the content on their web site is newspaper related. It's like arguing that My Space should be protected from disclosure of their postings sources because they are also owned by a major media company. The nature of the comments/story postings is not simply that of journalism. They are not edited and are not the view/responsibility of the newspaper. If they are, then the JW likley no longer has the protection from liability Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides. The JW seems to what to have it both ways here.

Have a read here... http://w2.eff.org/bloggers/lg/faq-230.php

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bearded_gnome 6 years, 9 months ago

nice job sigmund, once again, Logie tried to engage in a quiditty and you stayed with the topic of the thread. you did address his first question directly but he didn't like the answer which had to do with "battlefield communications" in the prosecution of war. that's been supported by four of the supremes so is not a flakey concept. you addressed his other two questions by indicating they were irrelevant which is true. to the average reader, you are right, logie will appear a lunatic fringe member ranting about meaningless things on a thread that does not address itself to those topics! there were warrantless wiretaps under carter too, as well as Clintonia. logie demonstrates vapid hypocrisy with his rantings in this area.

keep up the good work Sigmund.


yes it seems that the records were protected this time without much legal muscle-flexing. it is a tidy little question and one perhaps the ljworld should cover in an article, whether we posters are the equivalent of reporters' sources, or whether we are the equivalent of a man on the corner with a sign/bullhorn.

still no comment on this thread from A2THEK? suppose they exported him to Gitmo? I understand smoking is still legal there for staff and guests. it is amazing how much "the sky is falling" gets cried on here about civil rights when the system worked as it should and it shows how narrowly focused are the thoughts and scanning of the lunatic left fringies.

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andjusticeforall 6 years, 9 months ago

Seems like Judge Six is wiling to sign any warrant put in front of him these days. You would think the son of a Supreme Court Justice would be a little more concerned about the administration of justice in Lawrence!!!! Clearly he's more concerned with keeping his buddies in the LPD happy than upholding a little piece of paper known as the Constitution. Hopefully Sebelius will be more thoughtful on her next appointment to the bench in Douglas County.

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usesomesense 6 years, 9 months ago

Hate to break it to you Mr. Branson, but I've been 'blogging' since about 1985 - and I'm sure others were far earlier than that.

It wasn't the Internet then (nor was it called 'blogging'). They were called 'Bulletin Boards' or BBS's.

They weren't tied to a News agency (at least not the ones I was on) but they were an online community that would post topics and comments.

If Congress was unaware of this at the time the laws were written, they were poorly informed. However; this defense doesn't work for the rest of us if we are unaware of the law and break it.

When we can no longer express our own ideas and opinions publicly without fear of persecution we realize what McCarthyism really is.

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mutpuppy 6 years, 9 months ago

I think he's in the witness protection program...lol

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doc1 6 years, 9 months ago

What a bunch of retards. There was not Constitution violation.

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DavidR 6 years, 9 months ago

Isn't is possible the cops simply wanted to find out how it is that the poster in question knew how the student died? Aren't the cops supposed to find out what happened, and don't they do that by asking people questions? Why does everyone assume the cops had evil intentions.

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Bitterfalls 6 years, 9 months ago

It was more likely the cops trying to trace where the student got the drugs. If indeed that is actually what he died of.

However, one does have the right to stand on the corner on a soap box and preach their ideas. Granted that one gives up their privacy and anonymity when they do so, but they should never be punished for saying what they have to say. They give up their privacy because they are in a public place. But in cyberspace when they know that the only reason that someone would care or search for their identity is because that other wishes to harm them or punish them for stating their bit. And that is how and why these kinds of police tactics have a chilling effect on free speech.

But while cops doing this does alarm me, I think what is more likely and more often happens is that other keyboard pundits, meaning regular people, become bothered by others and wish to stifle them or punish them for their opinions.

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rhd99 6 years, 9 months ago

Folks, I am sorry to say this, & by the time you read this, I will be out of this arena entirely. Am I scared after reading this article? Maybe, but this article represents the end of my transmissions here online. Those of you who have been offended at what I wrote before, my deepest apologies. I hope we will all agree on this: America is supposed to be the land of the FREE, not the oppressed. G'Bye, & I wish you all well.

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andjusticeforall 6 years, 9 months ago

This article is just another example of the Lawrence Police Department's cowboy mentality when it comes to "solving" and/or "investigating" crimes!!!! The LPD seems to be convinced that they don't have to follow the rules, adhere to the Constitution, or engage in any real police work. And, unfortunately, judges like Six allow these cowboy- types to continue in their out of control pursuit of injustice.

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pomegranate 6 years, 9 months ago

Enforcer, what you really meant to say was: I wouldn't piss in his ear if his brains were on fire. That was my Dad's favorite saying.

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bearded_gnome 6 years, 9 months ago

logie logie logie. sorry I misspelled a word you don't know...quiddity accurately describes your employment of your "three questions" and demanding a yes or no answer, though to the first one more than a one word answer is necessary. my point in referring to four of the supremes is that yes we lost that supreme court case but there were four supporting the concept of battlefield communications as being subject to warrantless wiretap because of the president's CnC powers. point being that this was a close decision and many agree with the administration, but all this is in your quiddity diverting from the point of this thread.

poor Logie, did I make an A.H. attack on your little psyche? too bad. actually it was an accurate description of your behvior. no, I'm not Siggy's alt.self. if you think so, you really do believe in black helicopters, don't you?

Slippery slope notwithstanding, you should realize there have been several violations of the Constitution by the authorities since the current resident of the White House took power.

first, the D.A. is a democratz! FGS!

second, this really demonstrates a florid case of Bush Derangement Syndrome, especially since the system in this case worked as it was supposed to!
third, you cannot find a single american citizen who has suffered loss or limitation of any rights under the Bush administration. now, it is the law of the land that the illegal combatants held at Gitmo don't automaticly have habeus corpus right, because just like german POW's in WWII, they are POW's! your hatred for Bush and conservatives has obviously impaired your reasoning ability.

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nekansan 6 years, 9 months ago

Log.

I agree with a lot of what you say. I was clearly (I thought) making the extreme argument as were you I think.

You said.. "You assume that the poster had "material information." That has not been proven and just because LE says it does not make it true. You should be aware that LE can lie to you in an interrogation. It's perfectly legal. Do you believe everything the authorities tell you?"

I don't assume the poster had material information, they claimed to have it. They claimed to know the cause of death. Without knowing all the other facts of the case it is certainly reasonable to believe that statements such as this could be important to the case and therefore the police have an obligation to investigate.

"Remember, their search warrant would've given them access to every poster's identity, not just the identity of the one poster they were interested in, and therefore this is an attack on free speech."

That is not clear, we have not seen the order. We only know that the JW complained about it being overly broad. They have taken no action to legally stop the order (that has been publicly released yet), there has only been a voluntary delay in it's implementation.

"You must be reading a different version of the Constitution than I have. The Constitution has safeguards related to searches, including the need for the authorities to establish probable cause. I saw nothing in the article that indicated LE had established anything remotely connected to probable cause.

Slippery slope notwithstanding, you should realize there have been several violations of the Constitution by the authorities since the current resident of the White House took power."

The court cannot issue the search warrant without finding that probable cause exists, so the court had to find that such cause did exist. Relying on an article that is written with by the subject of the court order to fully provide the evidence of probable cause is no more realistic that allowing the police to get search warrants without a judge's approval.

I agree that the Bush administration has, in my opinion, violated the constitution with regards to their wiretap policy among other things, but I really think we are stretching things if you believe that the White house is calling the shots in the Douglas County DA's office and district courts. Regardless, in this case the executive branch of government followed the checks and balances and received a court order from the Judiciary.

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nekansan 6 years, 9 months ago

Justice for all....

" Anonymous user

andjusticeforall (Anonymous) says:

"This article is just another example of the Lawrence Police Department's cowboy mentality when it comes to "solving" and/or "investigating" crimes!!!! The LPD seems to be convinced that they don't have to follow the rules, adhere to the Constitution, or engage in any real police work. And, unfortunately, judges like Six allow these cowboy- types to continue in their out of control pursuit of injustice."

The LPD has nothing to do with this investigation. It is being handled by the KU police.

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staff04 6 years, 9 months ago

This was just sloppy police work...they could have followed the proper procedure of issuing a subpoena which the LJW likely would have complied with. Storming in with a search warrant and demanding open access to the LJW computers just doesn't fly.

And a note to HodgePodge--a couple of years ago a liberal poster who was not anonymous was allegedly relentlessly harassed and even stalked at his home by a conservative poster(s). I have no intention of ever willingly offering up that information for this reason alone--sorry, but I don't trust y'all to play nice.

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Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 6 years, 9 months ago

While I have severe problems with government access to the confidential information of a newsgathering organization, you should always be advised that nothing online is that confidential.

If you libel someone on here, I suspect your identity would be accessible and you can be held accountable for your comments. In this case, the issue is whether a random comment on this blog carries with it enough credibility to trash the JW's confidentiality, and I'm betting it doesn't.

Everyone reading this story could now post comments regarding that case that would suggest some intimate knowledge of that case with absolutely zero knowledge of the case, and perhaps we should, just to make the point.

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usesomesense 6 years, 9 months ago

" I'm not seeing how a search warrant prohibits free speech. No one stopped anyone from speaking or printing anything. "

One of the truly great and yet most potentially dangerous aspects of the Internet IS it's anonymity.

Free speech has ALWAYS been inhibited by the lack of anonymity and the fear of persecution by what are probably the most centered and grounded members of our society. The 'Common Citizen' historically has always been more inclined to keep their mouth publicly shut on virtually all issues.

The internet has provided an outlet for many people who otherwise might have just accepted anything from minor to huge injustices that may have occurred merely from some person's, official's or politician's inability to see the whole picure.

Of course, the dangerous side is the potential for misinformation and slander. However; this is a blog, not unlike a series of letters to the editor and any information contained should be taken primarily as a matter of opinion NOT fact.

When law enforcement starts forcibly walking into peoples living rooms because people posted their opinions and theories it is a huge blow to free speech. It invokes fear - arguably terror. This makes people shut their mouths about everything.

The fact is that the KUPD should have asked the LJWorld to ask the poster if they would contact them about it. I'm not sure if they want to speak to them because the information they posted is too factual or too false.
If the information they posted is false, it would probably suffice to have the LJWorld warn the individual about what possible ramifications about making false allegations in public.
If the allegations are truthful, I'm not sure what they gain by speaking to this person unless they are trying to hunt down where the illegal substance came from......

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BlackVelvet 6 years, 9 months ago

"If you libel someone on here, I suspect your identity would be accessible and you can be held accountable for your comments. In this case, the issue is whether a random comment on this blog carries with it enough credibility to trash the JW's confidentiality, and I'm betting it doesn't."

I don't think someone stating they know for absolute fact how someone died, should be considered a "random comment".

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fu7il3 6 years, 9 months ago

I'm suprised no one has brought up the fact that the article is written by the people who the police wanted information from.

Can I really take this at face value when the paper has such a high stake in it?

A university, the district attorney, and a judge all conspired against them? Seriously, is the ljworld owned by Yellow House? (No offense to Yellow House or ljworld.)

Five of the sources in here are from the media, two are directly associated with ljworld. Of course they are going to defend the media, that's where they make their living.

There are two people on the opposing viewpoint in the entire story. The only lawyer is a district attorney. Where are the other comments from other people involved in criminal law? It would be different if this was supposed to be an editorial, but it's presented as news, and therefore is supposedly impartial.

Bernard Rhodes - "Congress has determined that the First Amendment is emasculated by allowing armed law enforcement to come into a newsroom to gather whatever information they want," Rhodes said. "That is the type of practice you used to see in the old Soviet Union."

From the story - "The Journal-World ultimately was not made to supply information regarding the identity of the poster. When presented with the search warrant, the newspaper was given the opportunity to call its attorney, who contacted the district attorney's office and the court to object to the search warrant. During that time period, the KU investigator left the Journal-World offices without executing the search warrant and did not return."

Does anyone else see the difference there?

I'm not saying the police did everything right, but if it was sloppy police work, this is sloppy, heavy-handed journalism.

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staff04 6 years, 9 months ago

fu7il3:

Not really a legit argument there...of the sources, one is an employee of the University, the other IS the district attorney who reviewed the warrant application, KUPD declined to comment in any substantive way, and the judge who issued the warrant declined to comment at all. I hardly think that constitutes "heavy-handed jounalism."

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fu7il3 6 years, 9 months ago

Maybe I'm just not understanding why this is a free speech issue and not a search and seizure issue. I'm not seeing how a search warrant prohibits free speech. No one stopped anyone from speaking or printing anything. You can call it a privacy issue. You can call it a search and seizure issue. But free speech?

It just seems that everyone is being a little melodramatic with their images of Nazi's and Soviets, and warrantless wiretaps. I doubt Hitler would have given a crap about a2thek.

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staff04 6 years, 9 months ago

I'm not suggesting that KUPD shouldn't be able to speak to the poster--the problem from my end is, instead of getting a subpoena for the one name they wanted, like they did for the other two cases LJW complied with, they came with a search warrant and asked for access to the LJW's server logs. At that point, the privacy and rights of every other poster who is NOT a2thek are compromised.

Also, I agree that this is a search and seizure issue and not a free speech issue. I DO, however understand how the general issue of anonymity in online message boards and other forums is...

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Kathy Getto 6 years, 9 months ago

staff04 (Anonymous) says:

I'm not suggesting that KUPD shouldn't be able to speak to the poster-the problem from my end is, instead of getting a subpoena for the one name they wanted, like they did for the other two cases LJW complied with, they came with a search warrant and asked for access to the LJW's server logs. At that point, the privacy and rights of every other poster who is NOT a2thek are compromised.

Also, I agree that this is a search and seizure issue and not a free speech issue. I DO, however understand how the general issue of anonymity in online message boards and other forums is:


The way the article is written makes it difficult to know what the warrant actually said. First it says the warrant demanded access to the LJW's computer servers, then it says they were looking for the identity of one poster. Which was it? I assume by the paper's response that law enforcement was on a phishing expedition or the warrant would have been successful, I agree that this is not a free speech issue, because free speech is not applicable on a privately owned forum. This appears to be a matter of shoddy legal work. I would like to see the paperwork submitted to Judge Six, who, in my opinion is a decent, knowledgable judge. We will see unfold, in the next five years or less, many cases appealed concerning Internet anonymity as Branson stated, it is uncharted territory.

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perkins 6 years, 9 months ago

Seems obvious to me that the request made of the Journal-World was overbroad. Trying to use a sledge hammer to swat a fly. I'm embarrased for the DA and really embarrassed for Judge Six.

At least the law professors have a nearby example of "overreaching" and "fishing expedition" to discuss with their students.

People in positions of power need to have their actions scrutinized and discussed, verbally and electronically. Anonymity allows whistleblowing. A reader can choose not to believe a post, but if he hears about, say, a Justice who often falls asleep on the bench, he may inquire from people in a position to know, and discover it is true.

The only good to come from this is maybe the pot smokin crowd will quit crowin' about their smokin'. Smoke if you must, but don't chortle about your lawbreaking.

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BlackVelvet 6 years, 9 months ago

wouldn't it be nice if the LJW would post a copy of the warrant, verbatim? That way we'd all know if the cops were looking to talk to just one person or wanting to phish through all of the server logs. bet they won't tho.

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fu7il3 6 years, 9 months ago

Until they do give the warrant verbatim, I am skeptical. I don't see how a warrant could make it past a prosecutor, then be signed by a judge and be that broad.

According to the story, they were only looking for a2thek. If that's true, then it changes things in my mind drastically. So, which is it? It can't be both ways, but this article makes it sound both ways.

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fu7il3 6 years, 9 months ago

Agreed, but they are hardly an impartial source. If they posted what was written on the warrant verbatim, people could make their own conclusions about what the intentions of the police were, rather than getting conflicting messages from the article.

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BigPrune 6 years, 9 months ago

What a wonderful source of information. The DA, KU and Judge Six will be able to see the real critics in all our splendor. I can see real political retribution since KU, Six and Branson are liberals - they'll know every closeted conservative who writes on here.

I will NEVER post anything ever again, and this time, I mean it.

I feel like my pants have been pulled down in front of class and everyone is laughing.

I thought the republicans were supposed to be the fascists. Guess I had that WAY wrong.

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lunacydetector 6 years, 9 months ago

hmmm.....i wonder how the list could be kept quiet? good work JW.

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equalaccessprivacy 4 years, 3 months ago

Interesting story. Sounds pretty repressive to me! It's pretty obvious that neither the KU cops or DAs represent competent law enforcement personnel with any respect for civil liberties. Plus, KU, a singularly mis-managed and less than ethical place, has the DAs and Douglas County court in its pocket, making for a very corrupt and conflict-of-interest local legal system.

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