San Francisco police obtained a warrant to search journalist Bryan Carmody’s phone and monitor it remotely more than two months before officials raided his home, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday. Carmody, who is currently under investigation to determine if he illegally obtained and leaked a police report about Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s death, was subjected to a phone-records search on March 1. The warrant was reportedly sent to Carmody by mail this week.
California’s shield law protects journalists from being compelled to reveal sources or notes through methods like police sources, but the police called Carmody a “co-conspirator” in the theft of a police report while getting the warrant approved. “The SFPD appears to have used the illegal warrant to spy on Bryan’s movements, phone calls and communications. This is an alarming and deeply disturbing attack on the free press in an attempt to unmask Mr. Carmody’s confidential source,” Carmody’s lawyer Ben Berkowitz said in a statement. “The SFPD’s actions are plainly illegal under the First Amendment and California’s Shield Law.” Police reportedly did not respond to the Chronicle’s request for comment.