Gizmodo editor's house searched by police last Friday
Gizmodo editor Jason Chen came home last Friday to find police going through his house in California, according to a just-posted report on the blog that purchased Apple's prototype iPhone, originally lost in a bar a few weeks ago. We posted an analysis over the weekend about Gizmodo's possible liability after a report that police were starting up an investigation into the matter, but it looks like the case struck home quite literally for Chen. The editor had his house broken into (as per a search warrant) by police and multiple computers, hard drives, and an iPhone seized as evidence.
Chen was told by officers that he was not under arrest or detainment, and that they were looking for material that may have been "used as a means of committing a felony." Gizmodo's legal representative, COO Gaby Darbyshire, filed paperwork with the officers that claims the search warrant was executed erroneously according to California penal code, which gives journalists fairly wide latitude for protection from seizure, especially regarding the identity of sources. Darbyshire also took issue with the search's time -- it wasn't approved as a "night search" according to the warrant, but took place at 9:45pm local time.
As we said last week, it's unclear what liability Gizmodo might have for purchasing the lost iPhone, and uncertain what actions Apple might take in terms of civil or criminal prosecution. But it looks like the police investigation is underway, and if they find anything on the materials procured from Chen's house (as well as defend the complaint against the search's legality) that makes them think a felony took place, then it means this case isn't over.
Update: Legal code (quoted in the comments below) says the search can take place between 7am and 10pm, which means the "night search" argument is already invalid. Darbyshire's other argument is questionable as well -- there's some legal dissension over whether the journalist protection extends to warrants like this or not. We likely won't find out whether this evidence stands until the sheriff's office decides to proceed with the case or not -- our legal analyst says that complaints like Darbyshire's should be filed with the judge, not the sheriff.
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