The Stanford Daily-Stanford's student newspaper-filed suit in a Federal court yesterday to prevent a recurrence of a raid on its offices last month by local police seeking photographs to use as evidence against a group of demonstrators.
The Daily's attorneys filed a brief in the Federal District Court of North Califronia charging that the raid-unprecedented in recent history-violated the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution, and asking the court to declare the search illegal and to enjoin the Palo Alto Police Department from staging another raid.
The Daily's attorneys include Anthony Amesterdam-a noted civil liberties lawyer who recently defended Earl Caldwell, a black reporter for the New York Times who successfully contested an attempt by a California Grand Jury to force him to hand over his notes on the Black Panther Party-and Jerome Falk, a San Fransisco lawyer who has handled the legal defense for the embattled California Rural Legal Assistance program.
The brief names as defendants the officers who conducted the raid, the District Attorney and Assistant District Attorney who approved it, the judge who issued the warrant, and the chief of the Palo Alto Police Force.
The first hearing in the case-a request by the Daily for a change of venue-is scheduled for June 7.
Four Palo Alto police, armed with a search warrant entered the Daily office April 12. In the course of a 45-minute search, the police examined picture files, negatives. news files, and the desk drawers of the editors. Although the warrant empowered them to seize negatives and undeveloped film, they did not take anything with them when they left.
The police were seeking evidence against a group of black demonstrators who had battled police the previous Saturday after an all-night sit-in at the Stanford University Medical Center.
The next day, the Daily published an editorial calling the raid a "fishing expedition" and charging that it was designed to have a "chilling effect on the media to exercise the rights guaranteed to them by the First Amendment." Stanford President Richard Lyman called the raid "deplorable and threatening to the full freedom of the press."
Although the Stanford Administration has not aided the Daily officially, members of the Administration there have been privately helping the editors raise money to help pay for the expense of the suit. Daily editor Felicity Barringer said yesterday that several commercial newspapers have also made donations.
In a statement released yesterday, Barringer said, "we feel that unpublished information gathered when reporting the news-be it notes, tape recordings, or photographs-is ours to keep confidential. To open such unpublished information to the scrutiny of outside agencies would, we feel, severely hamper the Daily's newsgathering ability. It would break down the relationship of trust between newsmakers and news-gatherers that is vital to accurate and complete reportage."