Cuccinelli strikes again in JMU newspaper case
Kenneth Cuccinelli has struck again.
The Virginia attorney general says he supports a local prosecutor's seizure of more than 900 photographs at the Breeze, the student newspaper of James Madison University, pertaining to an April 10 party-turned-riot in which police were injured and tear gas was used to end the disturbance.
"I support any and all legal means to gather information to build a case against people who allegedly harmed or intended to harm law enforcement officers," Cuccinelli said in a statement to the Breeze on April 23.
Cuccinelli's views fly in the face of national journalism groups such as the Society for Professional Journalists and the Student Press Law Center, which say that Rockingham County Commonwealth's Attorney Marsha Garst violated the Privacy Protection Act of 1990 by seizing the photos with a search warrant. The law gives news groups immunity against searches unless a life is in danger or if the person holding the news material has committed a crime relating to them.
The Breeze's editor and faculty advisor refused initial requests by Garst to hand over the photos. Garst then had six police officers take them by force.
Once again, Cuccinelli has raised big questions about whether he is right for his job. A staunch social conservative, Cuccinelli drew national scorn for a legal opinion that Virgnia's public colleges have no right to institute policies protecting gay employees -- one that left fellow conservative Gov. Robert McDonnell quickly back-pedaling.
His opinion on the Breeze photos shows little regard for freedom of the press. it raises fears that the news media will be used, police state-style, as an extension of Virginia law enforcement.
| April 28, 2010; 4:35 PM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia, crime, domestic violence, media, schools
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