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Prosecutor, newspaper reach deal on seized photos

A First Amendment battle between the Rockingham County commonwealth’s attorney and the James Madison University student newspaper reportedly has been resolved with the paper agreeing to turn over 20 images to law enforcement officials and the state paying the paper’s lawyers.

Prosecutor Marsha Garst – with a contingent of police officers – served a search warrant at the offices of The Breeze on April 16 seeking hundreds of photos of a riotous JMU party. The photos later were placed with the paper’s faculty advisor while the parties talked.

The standoff apparently was resolved when Garst agreed to limit her demand to only certain photos deemed essential to her investigation and the paper agreed to turn them over without further legal action. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the deal also includes a $10,000 payment by the state Division of Risk Management to the law firm that represented The Breeze.

In a statement posted by The Roanoke Times, Garst expressed regret for the “fear and concern” she caused to the staff of The Breeze.

By Peter Vieth

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