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Case Summary for Zurcher v. Stanford Daily

Facts: Respondents, a student newspaper that had published articles and photographs of a clash between demonstrators and police at a hospital, and staff members, brought an action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against, among others, Petitioners, law enforcement and district attorney personnel, claiming that a search pursuant to a warrant issued on a judge's finding of probable cause that the newspaper (which was not involved in the unlawful acts) possessed photographs and negatives revealing the identities of demonstrators who had assaulted police officers at the hospital had deprived respondents of their constitutional rights.

Held: Properly administered, the preconditions for a search warrant (probable cause, specificity with respect to the place to be searched and the things to be seized, and overall reasonableness), which must be applied with particular exactitude when First Amendment interests would be endangered by the search, are adequate safeguards against the interference with the press' ability to gather, analyze, and disseminate news that respondents claim would ensue from use of warrants for third-party searches of newspaper offices.

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