Judge to Consider Unsealing iPhone Prototype Warrant

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The judge that issued a warrant allowing authorities to seize electronics from Gizmodo editor Jason Chen’s home as part of an theft investigation involving a prototype iPhone will consider opening the document to the public. The Judge overseeing the case could review the request to release the record as early as next week, according to CNET.

The request to open the warrant was presented to Judge Stephen Hall who decided to defer to the Judge that is overseeing the case, Judge Clifford Cretan.

Law enforcement officials impounded computers, an iPhone, and other items from Mr. Chen’s home as part of their investigation into how Gizmodo came into possession of a fourth generation iPhone prototype that an Apple engineer lost in a Redwood City bar.

Gizmodo bought the iPhone through an intermediary, or fence, from Brian Hogan for US$5,000. Mr. Hogan claimed he found the smartphone prototype in a bar.

Gizmodo is claiming Mr. Chen is protected from search warrants under California’s shield laws for journalists, making the property seizure invalid. Authorities, however, claim the warrant is valid because California law doesn’t protect journalists from criminal investigations — in this case, felony theft.

The District Attorney’s office plans to argue against releasing the warrant to the public because they claim it contains the names of two more people they want to question. In this case, they think the investigation would be hampered if the two people knew officials wanted to question them.

Judge Cretan hasn’t yet said when he will hear arguments in the request.

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3 Comments

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

That is the silliest argument ever from the DA. If two people were even tangentially involved and are in the State of California, they know that investigators want to question them. Duh.

Gizmodo’s site has been whacky for the past day. Dollars to donuts the ability to fix it is on those computers and the longer the delay getting them back to Jason, the more damage that will pile up, and the longer this saga will drag out. Apple is seeing its stock get hammered now because buy and holds are willing to take profit to cover other losses and otherwise get through this volatility. An Apple at war on several fronts isn’t a safe boat to be on. Gizmodo? Ellen? Are they really worth losing all the goodwill investors have give the company?

Josh

So, not only is Mr. Chen a blogger, but he is the only person qualified to fix their website??  That strikes me as being an incredibly tenuous claim.  Even if he is their only websmith, all the critical files should be maintained on the corporate servers, which were not seized.  Yes, it’s not surprising that they didn’t prepare for a prolonged seizure of his equipment by the police, but hardware failures and lightning strikes do happen.  For them to have the sort of single-point-of-failure set-up your claim requires to be plausible is just ludicrous.

When exactly did Apple get hammered?  They stock price dropped yesterday for the same reason everyone else’s did.  It had nothing to do with the investigation of Mr. Chen, Ellen’s apology, or anything else.  Besides, investors don’t make investment decisions based on “Good WIll” unless they are idiots.  Investments are best made because you think the stock price will go up due to the success of the company, not some ephemeral measure of a companies “good will” quotient.

geoduck

Law enforcement officials impounded computers, an iPhone, and other items from Mr. Chen?s home

So because this reporter paid to get a prototype iPhone belonging to Apple his own iPhone is impounded.

Irony is a dish best served cold.

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