SF Weekly's Jennifer Maerz earlier this month broke the story about an apparently far-reaching San Francisco Police strategy to keep that damn noise down. Cops, it seems, were systematically seizing the laptops of DJs playing at underground parties -- or, in some cases, even some who claim they weren't playing at the parties.
Following a hearing at San Francisco Superior Court today, however, two more aggrieved party-goers had their purloined computers handed back to them. Justin Credible and Matthew Higgins -- both of whom were featured in Maerz' original story -- received what their lawyer referred to as "their illegally seized laptops."
"This is great news, and a real relief to the pair who have been without their machines for a month," continued attorney Jennifer Grannick of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Both DJs had been at an underground Halloween party; Credible told SF Weekly she hadn't even been using her laptop to play music when the party was raided but was instructed to remove it from her bag and hand it over nevertheless.
Granick noted that, at today's hearing, the police department's attorney admitted that no charges were ever going to be filed against either DJ -- yet the laptops were still seized. "San Francisco law currently requires after-hours parties with live DJs to get a permit, and failure to do so can be punished as a misdemeanor," continued Granick. "But DJing an unpermitted party is not a crime, and certainly not one for which one's laptop could be forfeited."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation's overall claim -- that laptop seizures are "both illegal" and an "improper" way of punishing after-hours party-goers will be heard at a later date and by a different judge.
"Stay tuned for Side B," urges Granick.