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The United States Supreme Court has agreed to review the Stanford college newspaper's charges that a 1971 police search of its offices violated its constitutional right to privacy.
In 1971, The Stanford Daily had covered a riot outside a local hospital, and the Palo alto police department--believing that the Daily staff had taken photographs of the disturbance--requested the pictures to help identify the rioters.
However, the Daily claimed the police actually wanted to get possession of the photographs because they feared the photos would show instances of police brutality during the disturbance.
Without first asking for a subpoena for the photographs, the Palo Alto police obtained a search warrant.
In order to get a subpoena--which would have given them legal right to the photographs--the police would have had to show they needed the pictures for legal reasons.
Armed with their warrant, the Palo Alto police entered the Daily office and searched desks, reporters' notes and negatives. They found no photographs of the riot.
The Daily sued the Palo Alto police and the district attorney, charging that the police failure to subpoena the photos before searching for them was a violation of its civil rights.
A U.S. District Court decided in their favor and awarded them $47,500 in damages, and the decision was upheld by the Appeals Court. The district attorney then appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court will reach a decision on the case some time this year.
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