Government Says Marshals Were Wrong to Order Tape Erasure

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The government concedes that the U.S. Marshals Service violated the Privacy Protection Act when a marshal ordered reporters with The Associated Press and the Hattiesburg, Miss., American to erase their recordings of a speech by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, reports the Associated Press. The U.S. Department of Justice also admitted the reporters and their employers are each entitled to $1,000 in damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

The government’s response came Friday to a lawsuit filed in May by the AP and the Hattiesburg American. The lawsuit was filed May 10 in U.S. District Court in Jackson.

While agreeing the Privacy Protection Act forbids the seizure of the work product of a journalist, the government said the plaintiffs were not entitled to an injunction that would bar the Marshals Service from a repeat of the incident. During an April 7 speech at a high school in Hattiesburg, a deputy federal marshal, Melanie Rube, demanded that AP reporter Denise Grones and Hattiesburg American reporter Antoinette Konz erase recordings of the justice’s remarks. The reporters had not been told before the speech that they could not use tape recorders.

Link: http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040915/NEWS01/409150360/1002

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