News organizations oppose federal efforts to “gag” Leland Yee case 

Four California news organizations have asked the judge in a corruption case involving state Sen. Leland Yee to deny a request by federal prosecutors for a protective order barring defense lawyers from sharing evidence with the media.

“Given the indisputable public interest in this case — in which a prominent politician is accused of official corruption at the conclusion of a sweeping investigation, and in which defendants have made their own allegations of entrapment and government overreaching — the news organizations are concerned about the blanket nature and unlimited scope of the proposed protective order,” said a May 15 letter.

The letter, addressed to federal Judge Charles Breyer, was written on behalf of the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the San Francisco Chronicle.

The appeal points out that the protective order requested is “contrary to established First Amendment jurisprudence and important public policies.” Furthermore, it argues that such an action “strays from typical practice.”

The protective order in question was requested last week by U.S. attorneys prosecuting the case who argue that evidence taken during the course of the investigation, which will be handed over for use in the case, could reveal the identities of undercover agents, endanger witnesses and possibly reveal ongoing investigations. Therefore, defense lawyers should be prevented from sharing it with the public, according to prosecutors. Redaction is not an option due to the immense amount of data, the motion points out.

The deal that goes along with the proposed protective order, signed by nearly all defendants, said defense lawyers would be promptly given materials from the case and in full if they agreed to keep that information out of the public eye.

Defendant Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow’s lawyers have also opposed the protective order.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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