The SF Weekly is owned by a chain based in Phoenix, Ariz., whose owners — Michael Lacey (right) and Jim Larkin — publish a newspaper there that has been investigating and reporting on the local sheriff, Joe Arpaio. They even went so far as to print Arpaio’s home address in connection with a story about how the sheriff was able to accumulate so many assets given his salary.

On Thursday, Lacey and Larkin were arrested and officials demanded all sorts of information from the files their alt-weekly in Phoenix including a list of everyone who had visited the paper’s Web site in recent years.

The backlash from liberals and conservatives was quick and fierce. On Friday all charges were dropped, the prosecutor admitted making serious mistakes and the State Bar Association began an investigation into the prosecutors who went after newspaper. Coverage: Arizona Republic, E&P, AP, NY Times. Here’s the original story Lacey and Larkin wrote.

    Here’s the caption that the Phoenix New Times put under the photo above: “The initial grand jury subpoena named New Times Media LLC.; that’s us, Michael Lacey (right) and Jim Larkin. We founded Phoenix New Times in 1970 in reaction to the war in Vietnam; our newspaper company has since expanded across America. The two of us live here, our kids go to school here, and we begin every day confronting the issues of journalism here. In nearly 40 years of work, this is our first joint byline. (You see, grand juries have their positive side.) The most outrageous part of the over-the-top New Times subpoena is this section demanding the identities of our Web site readers, plus their Internet viewing habits. See full text of the subpoena here.

(Photo credit: Phoenix New Times, Giulio Sciorio)

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