Lawyer demands U Fla cops' documents on fiction writer

Mitchell L Silverman, an attorney in Hollywood, Florida, was so outraged by the story of University of Florida cops leaning on a grad student who published fiction on his LiveJournal recounting a murder that he's filed an official request with the U Fla police for copies of all the police notes on the file. The cops have a legal obligation to disclose these records under state law.

Philip Sandifer is the U Fla grad student in Gainesville from whom the campus police demanded DNA and fingerprints. Sandifer had published a short story about a murderer who cites his crimes in a letter to the Special Forces as qualifications for a job with them. The cops' rationale was that even if it was fiction, you can't be too safe, and besides, they didn't think that English students should be writing about murder.

It looks like the original complaint came from people whom Sandifer had argued with over Wikipedia -- a message-board for disgruntled Wikipedians contains a discussion of Sandifer's story and the mischief that could be had by complaining the university about it, noting, "it wouldn't take much to put him in a position where he either decides to leave Wikipedia or decides that he doesn't need a Ph.D. after all." Sandifer told the police about this, but they continued to pressure him for DNA samples, threatening to obtain them from his garbage if he refused to comply.

The U Fla police refused to speak with me, and (via a university spokesman) denied asking for Sandifer's prints and DNA and condemning his writing -- but Sandifer's story is corroborated by his advisor, Sid Dobrin, who was present during one of their interviews with him.

Silverman is acting on his own in this request for documents -- he's not Sandifer's attorney. He's just an outraged Floridan who wants to know why the cops in his state are policing fiction. Link