Breeze, CA office reach settlement

Alex Sirney -- June 1st, 2010

The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office has agreed to limit the scope of its request for photographs related to the civil disturbance on Village Lane from The Breeze and to reimburse The Breeze for $10,000 in legal fees.

In an agreement signed over the weekend, Commonwealth Attorney Marcia Garst and The Breeze Editor-in-Chief Katie Thisdell agreed to the limited request and reimbursement after more than a month of negotiation. As a condition of the signing, The Breeze turned over 20 photographs of the 962 originally seized that met the limited criteria.

The BreezeThis comes after Garst served a warrant on April 16 allowing her to confiscate any photographs from the April 10 Village Lane incident. The Breeze initially refused, and continues to assert that the seizure violated the Federal Privacy Protection Act.

In a statement provided with the agreement and dated Tuesday Garst stopped short of admitting any wrongdoing, but expressed regret for “the fear and concern that [she] caused The Breeze and its staff.”

She continues:

Finally, my office intends to follow and enforce the Constitution, as well as Federal and State statutes related to law enforcement and criminal investigations. In the future, absent an imminent need to prevent the loss of life or the threat of bodily injury, any information and documents which will be sought from any news agency or publication, including The Breeze, will be done so through the subpoena process accordingly.

Thisdell also released a statement that expressed pleasure at the resolution while continuing to assert that the initial seizure was illegal. She also explains The Breeze‘s decision to release the 20 photographs:

Here, after the Commonwealth’s Attorney narrowed the request to eight specific incidents, we determined, after talking with our counsel, that if those categories of photos were in fact subpoenaed, a judge might agree that the Commonwealth was entitled to the small number of photographs we had of those incidents – a total of 20 photographs. We therefore are providing them to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and have added them to the many images that were already public on our Web site. The still-sealed discs of the 962 photos originally seized on April 16th have been returned to The Breeze.

The agreement was also signed by both the JMU and Harrisonburg Police Departments, and included language that stated the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department had no part in the seizure. Language was also included that released all parties from additional legal action related to the incident.

12 Responses to “Breeze, CA office reach settlement”

  1. Well isn’t that special! Commonwealth’s Attorney Garst paid $500 each for 20 photographs! Congratulations Ms. Garst and Judge Lane, you two are single-handedly redefining “fiscal conservative”, “responsible use of taxpayer money”, while trashing the Constitution and Rule of Law. A trifecta of failure.

  2. Actually, Virginia’s Department of Risk Management paid the money.

  3. Speak Truth says:

    They can make that up in fines against the people they end up convicting.

  4. Jamie Smith says:

    Apparently Cuccinelli didn’t know the law either.

  5. Cuccinelli doesn’t know a lot of the law, like many of his fellow attorneys, which is why we should remove any licensing requirements to be able to practice law.

  6. Speak Truth says:

    what’s 10K anyway? when we taxpayers on the hook from trillions…

  7. David Miller says:

    Dave, with all due respect you’re proposing deregulation of the legal field now, Yikes, perhaps you could gather more support for moderate reform.

  8. Dave…my experience, at least as far as child support enforcement goes, is that there are vast quantities of people, who aren’t attorneys, who know more about Virginia law than tens of thousands of attorneys.

    Besides, from a Constitutional point of view here in Virginia, one can only become a participant in the judicial branch experience if one has a Virginia State Bar membership…you can’t get one of those unless you’re an attorney.

  9. Today in General District Court, former Rockingham County Republican Chairman, Judge Richard Claybrook, tried current News Editor of the Breeze, John Jorgen Sutter, on charges of public swearing and intoxication and failure to disperse in a riot…

    The matter was continued to 1/24/11 at which time Sutter must have completed 200 hours in community service, paid $81 in fines, and remain alcohol free…if does all three, both charges will be DROPPED.

    Of course, his current activities may have helped him out a little, but who knows?

    * Intern at Pat Toomey for U.S. Senate
    * Intern at United States Senate
    * Records, Reproduction, and Imaging Clerk at United States District Court, Western Pennsylvania District

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