Settlement reached in seizure of Va. campus paper photos

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

HARRISONBURG, Va. — A Rockingham County prosecutor says a settlement has been reached with James Madison University's student newspaper over hundreds of photos seized after a riot at an off-campus block party.

Police arrested dozens of people at Springfest on April 10 and several people, including Harrisonburg police officers, were injured.

Authorities confiscated more than 900 photos from The Breeze newsroom on April 16. A third party held the images until the dispute over the seizure was resolved.

Commonwealth's Attorney Marsha Garst said yesterday her office had received 20 photos that would assist in the investigation. In turn, Garst said, the state Division of Risk Management would pay $10,000 in legal fees that the newspaper incurred in contesting the seizure. The rest of the photos will be returned to the newspaper.

According to in Waynesboro, the 20 photos had not been published. The Web site also reported that Seth Berlin, an attorney  representing The Breeze, said Garst had admitted in the settlement that seizing the photographs was the wrong approach.

“I admire the commonwealth’s attorney for her willingness to stand up and say so,” Berlin was quoted as saying in the NewsVirginian story.