Milwaukee censorship case targets reporter

           UPDATE: Prosecutor says  judge boosts security

MILWAUKEE, WIS. (July 13, 2012) – A city judge has refused to allow broadcast of the trial of a reporter who was stopped from video recording police giving a ticket to a woman whose car had been rammed by a police car that failed to stop, causing thousands of dollars in damage. Although the officer driving the car was not cited, Police Officer Joseph Anderer broke reporter Geoff Davidian’s camera and ticketed him for “obstruction of an officer in the issuance of a citation,” which carries a $189 forfeiture.

Municipal Judge Phillip Chavez also ordered that Davidian’s request to see what was in the Court file be denied, despite overwhelming precedent that court records are to be open to the public. For example, in Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc., the US Supreme Court recognized in 1978 a common-law right “to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents.”  Judge Phil Chavez

Milwaukee Municipal Judge Phillip Chavez

Davidian, a national judge for Project Censored, says he hired Tennessee civil rights lawyer Samuel J. Harris to represent him in the municipal case and possibly in a federal civil rights case for violating the reporter’s First Amendment rights, but Judge Chavez did not grant a motion to allow Harris to appear and scheduled trial on a date that ignored the list of times Harris could travel to Wisconsin to appear on Davidian’s behalf, effectively denying Davidian representation. Meanwhile, the prosecutor has called four police officers to testify for the government.

Kristen Rasmussen, a McCormick Legal Fellow at the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press, is watching the case.

The video showing the incident in which Davidian was cited and his camera broken is online at

Project Censored welcomes any recordings of the trial, which is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at the Milwaukee municipal Court, Branch 3, 951 N. James Lovell St. (formerly N. 7th St.) Milwaukee, WI  53233

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