Court Clears Chicago Photojournalist

Photo by CatalogThis

For those of you who followed the story here back in October and November, you’ll remember that Mike Anzaldi is the freelance photojournalist who was unjustly (some would say ridiculously) arrested twice in Chicago for trying to shoot footage at crime scenes. The conclusion to the story is that a judge finally ruled in his favor, but the path to that point was predictably convoluted and drawn out.

After several court dates over the past few months, and coverage by the Chicago Tribune, the city and state decided that they would indeed press forward and charge Anzaldi with breaking the law. (Anzaldi heard that the coverage by the Tribune was in part responsible for the decision to move forward.) He was charged with two ordinance violations by the city and three counts of obstruction by the state.

Anzaldi picks up the story here:

Several court appearances went by with no real clear indication of what I was being charged with. The judge agreed, but allowed the state to amend their charges so that they made sense. This happened a few times. If it sounds silly, believe me, it was better being there. Even after the judge held the state’s hand through these pre-trial follies, the state still didn’t satisfy the court. 

The day of the trial, my attorney made a few pre-trial motions to dismiss a couple of the charges. The state was arguing that I obstructed the commander by filming. My attorney argued that it was impossible to obstruct by filming. The judge agreed, and tossed out that charge. The problem for the state was that their whole case was based on that notion; they argued that my filming created a chilling effect to the people who were gathered around me when the commander came over to interview them about the shooting. Never mind that it never happened. There was no interviewing, and no one was chilled.

 But, that was their made-up story, and they were going with it. Again, the judge threw that out before the trial began, so it was like the whole day, and their whole strategy, was out the window by 10 a.m. The rest of the charges were equally hollow and ridiculous.

At the end of the day, the judge admonished the state for failing to defend their claims.  He also mentioned that the commander’s testimony was surprisingly different than what was recorded on tape. While stopping short of calling him a liar, he said he didn’t understand why he would testify something different from what we would see on tape.

That said, the judge also indicated that if the state had successfully argued that their case was based on me chilling potential witnesses due to my filming, that he would have likely accepted that claim. Again, that didn’t actually happen, nor did the state have that opportunity due to their own incompetence.

Anzaldi is contemplating his next move. And he still has his video of the first incident, which he says is fairly tame, but it does prove his innocence without question. He says he may or may not release it one day.

4 Responses to “Court Clears Chicago Photojournalist”

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  1. 1 Court Clears Chicago Photojournalist - discarted | Photo News Today Trackback on February 11, 2009 at 5:53 am
  2. 2 The Criminalization of Photographers | Visual Arts Junction Trackback on April 1, 2009 at 11:36 am

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