Judge to Consider Unsealing iPhone Prototype Warrant

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.