A federal judge in San Francisco today refused to dismiss the FBI and two agents as defendants in a lawsuit filed by two Berkeley community groups whose computers were seized in a raid last year.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said the two groups, Long Haul Inc. and East Bay Prisoner Support, could continue to pursue their claim against the FBI and the agents for alleged violation of a federal law called the Privacy Protection Act during the raid on Aug. 27, 2008.
He also said they could maintain claims against the individual agents for violation of the constitutional right to be free of unreasonable searches.
The purpose of the raid was to seek evidence related to a threat sent to a UC animal research scientist from a public computer at Long Haul, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by a University of California police officer.
The FBI agents and several UC officers seized 14 computers from the two groups at an office building they share at 3124 Shattuck Ave.
The computers were eventually returned and no arrests have been made, but the two groups say in their lawsuit that they believe the FBI and UC police illegally retained information from the computers.
The lawsuit, filed in January, also named three UC police officers and two supervisors as defendants, but the UC officers did not ask to be dismissed from the case.
White’s ruling keeps the case on track for evidence gathering and possible summary judgment motions or trial against both the FBI and UC defendants.
Jennifer Grannick, a lawyer for the two groups, said, “The judge has upheld the essence of our claims. We’re going to go forward and litigate this case.”