Josh Wolf is a freelance journalist and blogger who, in 2006, was jailed for refusing to turn over unpublished video footage he shot during a street brawl in San Francisco, CA. Furthermore, when asked to testify before a U.S. Grand Jury, he declined, and wouldn’t budge in his decision.
Despite Wolf’s case seeming potentially reasonable, none of the rights in the first amendment are applicable, and therefore can offer him no protection in the court. For example:
The grand jury is not prohibiting the free exercise of a religion.
The grand jury is not abridging his freedom of speech, nor press, but rather requesting to see the footage which he has not made public.
The grand jury is not prohibiting Wolf from peacefully assembling, and neither are they prohibiting him from petitioning.
Therefore, a call to the first amendment would be invalid in this particular case.
Moreover, Wolf defends himself with the shield law, which protects journalists from having to reveal confidential sources. While in an ordinary case, I believe this would have been sufficient in keeping Wolf out of jail and his video unpublic, this case was different in that Wolf’s sources could have possibly contained footage of attempted arson on a government-financed vehicle.
In conclusion, Wolf was put in jail temporarily and the grand jury was able to gain access to Wolf’s footage.
What do YOU think? Should Josh Wolf have been able to keep his video footage private, or was it just for the grand jury to investigate?