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Seizure of videotapes did not violate the rights of cable show hosts.

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    NMU         EIGHTH CIRCUIT         Newsgathering         Nov 26, 2002    

Seizure of videotapes did not violate the rights of cable show hosts.

  • Television hosts lost their bid to prove that their rights were violated when they were forced out of a party for Maplewood, Minn., city council members and their videotape was confiscated by police.

A court of appeals in St. Louis (8th Cir.) ruled Nov. 21 that police did not violate the rights of two cable television show hosts who were removed from a Dec. 28, 1999 party honoring outgoing Maplewood, Minn. city council members.

Kevin Berglund, a host of a local cable show called “Inside Insight,” a St. Paul-area public affairs program, was jailed after arguing with officials about whether the party was a public or private event when they asked him to leave.

Robert Zick, the show’s co-host, who also attended the event, was not arrested but police seized from him a videotape.

Claiming that their civil and First Amendment rights were violated, Berglund and Zick filed separate suits against Maplewood officials in 2000.

A district court in Minneapolis found in favor of the city of Maplewood Oct. 26, 2001.

Attorneys for the two argued that the district court erred in finding “exigent circumstances” — the possibility that the tape could be destroyed — that justified the seizure, according to a brief filed by Berglund’s attorneys.

They asked the appeals court to review the decision, but the appeals court upheld the lower court’s ruling.

“Obviously, we were disappointed,” said John Borger, Zick’s attorney. “We felt on close analysis that the circumstances did not support the district court’s conclusion that exigent circumstances existed to justify the seizure of the video tape.”

“In my view,” Borger added, “Zick and Berglund were in a firm but civil fashion asserting their interest in being at the event and recording speeches of public officials. That process was still in play when the off-duty police intervened. We believe the police caused more problems than they prevented. ”

(Zick v. City of Maplewood; Media counsel: John P. Borger, Faegre & Benson LLP, Minneapolis, Minn.; Berglund v. City of Maplewood, Minn.; Media counsel: Pierre N. Regnier, Jardine, Logan & O’Brien, PLLP, St. Paul) JL

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© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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