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Court dismisses Arizona blogger's suit against police over search

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  1. Libel and Privacy
An Arizona federal court last week dismissed a blogger's lawsuit against the city of Phoenix over a raid police conducted…

An Arizona federal court last week dismissed a blogger’s lawsuit against the city of Phoenix over a raid police conducted of his home that resulted in the confiscation of the laptop he used to manage a Web site that criticized the police department.

The blogger, Jeff Pataky, argued that the search and seizure violated the federal Privacy Protection Act, which protects journalists from searches and seizure of their work product.

Pataky, who operates the site BadPhoenixCops.blogspot.com, was out of town when officers confiscated his laptop, wireless router and paper documents in March. He said he suspected the move was a response to his critical writings about police.

The federal judge ruled that Pataky was was not afforded protection from the city’s search and seizure because police had a search warrant and probable cause based on criminal suspicion of computer tampering and theft. Federal Judge James A. Teilborg, who decided the case, wrote that the Privacy Protection Act does not apply when the "person possessing the materials is a criminal suspect – rather than an innocent third party – and the police have probable cause."