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[whitespace] Pat Dwyer Research Warrant: Pat Dwyer is reviewing how officers got a warrant to search Metro's office.

Public Eye

Rub With the Law

A cop, a prosecutor and a judge may have broken the law by approving a warrant to search Eye's premises this past week, and Eye is not taking the matter lying down--not even for a massage. It appears that Palo Alto police investigators working on a flesh-peddling case served three search warrants on June 28 to obtain copies of billing invoices for certain massage parlor ads that ran in Metro, the Palo Alto Daily News and the San Mateo Daily News. Metro editor DAN PULCRANO and DAVE PRICE, editor of the two sister dailies, didn't think the request was appropriate but complied after talking to their lawyers. The warrant, requested by a Palo Alto police sergeant, was reviewed by a deputy DA and signed off by Superior Court Judge Charles W. Hayden. Higher-ups at the two law enforcement agencies who learned of the unusual move after the fact were quick to apologize for putting the state's shield law through the shredder. "It shouldn't have happened," acknowledges PAULA KUTY, chief assistant district attorney. "In this particular case, there were other ways to handle it. I understand how it happened, but still it's a serious thing in terms of the press, and we're not overlooking it." Kuty says she called Palo Alto Police Chief PAT DWYER as soon as she found out and that the pair met with Price on Tuesday to go over what happened. Dwyer tells Eye he doesn't think any laws were broken, just some "policy," although Dwyer says the evidence gathered in the search won't be used in court. For good measure, Kuty sent an email to all DA's office staff reminding them about the rules for dealing with media. While there are protections for media organizations, Kuty says, requesting ad billing records isn't the same as going after a reporter's unpublished notes or the names of confidential sources. But JIM EWERT, legal counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association, disagrees. "What they did was illegal. In attempting to enforce the law, the officer, the deputy district attorney and the judge all violated the law when that search warrant was sought, signed off and provided by the court." The media shield law protects not only writers, editors and publishers but also anyone connected with a newspaper, magazine or broadcast station, Ewert says. Additionally, the warrants issued were so broad in scope that police could have searched any part of the news offices. "We'll be watching this very closely," he added. Eye called the judge who signed the warrant, Judge Hayden, but he didn't call Eye back. The funny footnote to the story is that the media's protection from search and seizure that's guaranteed under federal law comes from an old case involving Palo Alto police in the 1970s. After a violent demonstration on the Stanford Campus, police tried to get unpublished photographs from the Stanford Daily. After several years, the case went to the Supreme Court, which sided with the Daily. The case, Ewert says, became the foundation for the state penal code section that police and prosecutors violated.

Departure Gate?

Is the Bush administration planning to pull Transportation Secretary NORM MINETA's cabinet seat out from under him? Probably not, but the rumors are giving Mineta's press secretary a very bad week. The Maryland-based Housing Affairs Letter reported recently that President GEORGE W. BUSH may dump local airport namesake Norm for HUD Secretary MEL MARTINEZ, a man in need of a higher profile if he's going to win the Florida governor's race in 2006. Martinez, a Republican attorney from Orlando, is the first Cuban-American cabinet member and a longtime pal of Florida Governor and first bro JEB BUSH. He's also stuck in a low-profile spot, which led Washington Post columnist DAVID BRODER to pronounce him the "mystery man of the Bush cabinet." TOM EDWARDS, editor of the Housing Affairs Letter, says he gets his news from a "good source deep inside HUD, right at the top levels." Adds Edwards: "We've got a good source that [says Mineta] plans to retire. Whether he's planning to because the White House is trying to give him the shove or he just wants to get out, we don't know. We understand the White House wants to ease him out because of last year's squabbles over Reagan Airport and because he's the lone Democrat." Longtime Mineta pal ROD DIRIDON SR., who runs the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University, says he thinks Norm can keep his job as long as he wants. "That's the info I have from him when we've talked, and if there's a change it'll be because Norm Mineta decides that it would be the best for him. And he's been reassured of that on numerous times by the president." Mouthpieces for the HUD and Transportation heads deny any upcoming switcheroos. HUD spokesman JERRY BROWN told Eye: "We have no knowledge of that. Right now, the secretary has said on numerous occasions that his focus is here at HUD. He is not aware of any impending moves." Mineta press secretary CHET LUNNER is more adamant: "That's absolutely 100 percent not true. The secretary's going to stay as long as possible. He has the president's full support. Gossip is sort of a spectator sport in Washington, but these are the kind of baseless Washington rumors that responsible journalists don't print." Whew, Eye was afraid for a minute.

Davis Good, Crazies Bad

GEORGE KENNEDY is a no-nonsense kind of guy. Politically, that means the Santa Clara County district attorney doesn't run around throwing out endorsements to every candidate and cause that wants to use his name. So Eye was a little surprised to spot the DA's name on the governor's endorsement list, especially because Kennedy is a Republican (in a nonpartisan office, of course). He's not the only one, either: Four other Republican DAs are listed as backing Davis. Kennedy says the endorsement is a purely professional thing, based on the guv's excellent record on law enforcement issues. "My endorsement only has to do with the issues that I'm knowledgeable about, and that's law enforcement," Kennedy says. "But on those issues, he's really good, I think, way better than people know." But wouldn't BILL SIMON, a tough-on-crime Reep and former federal prosecutor, be good, too? Sure, Kennedy allows, "but Davis really knows the business and the issues and has shown he can get things done. He's been enormously effective for us and for public safety." Kennedy praises Davis for making the state DNA database a staffing and funding priority--he also likes the governor's parole policies, regional funding formulas and appointments to the bench. "His judicial appointments have been terrific," Kennedy gushes. "I think in that he's appointed minorities, gays, lesbians--a very much larger cross section of the community than the last few governors--and he's done it with good, responsible, moderate people. He hasn't appointed a bunch of crazies just to get the diversity."

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