Shield law

Shield laws -- adopted in thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia -- provide varying degrees of protection for reporters from subpoenas. They may provide absolute or qualified protection according to the type of legal proceeding involved (civil or criminal) or the role of the journalist in the proceeding (defendant or independent third party).

Ohio Supreme Court declines to hold reporter in contempt for refusing to testify

Cindy Gierhart | Reporter's Privilege | News | March 19, 2014
March 19, 2014

The Ohio Supreme Court decided Monday not to hold a reporter in contempt of court for refusing to testify in a disciplinary hearing against an attorney.

While the case was poised to answer the question of whether the state's reporter's privilege applied in quasi-judicial or administrative proceedings, the state's high court did not squarely answer this question. Instead of issuing a full opinion, the court briefly announced that it was dismissing the case and denying the Akron Bar Association's request to hold the reporter in contempt.

Ohio bar association asks state Supreme Court to hold reporter in contempt

Cindy Gierhart | Reporter's Privilege | News | February 12, 2014
February 12, 2014

The Ohio Supreme Court is set to decide whether a reporter will be forced to testify in a lawyer’s disciplinary hearing.

While Ohio has a shield statute that protects journalists from having to reveal sources of information in court, the state has not yet determined whether the reporter’s privilege extends into quasi-judicial or administrative proceedings, according to court filings.

Bill to strengthen Colorado shield law fails in committee

Cindy Gierhart | Reporter's Privilege | News | January 30, 2014
January 30, 2014

A bill that would have strengthened the Colorado shield law did not garner sufficient votes in the state's Senate Judiciary Committee to move forward.

Republican state Sen. Bernie Herpin introduced the bill in response to Fox News reporter Jana Winter's recent subpoena to testify before a Colorado court in the case of James Holmes, on trial for the Aurora theater shooting.

Colorado considers bill to bolster reporter shield law

Cindy Gierhart | Reporter's Privilege | News | January 16, 2014
January 16, 2014

The Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee considered a bill Wednesday that would strengthen the Colorado reporter shield law.

Colorado Sen. Bernie Herpin introduced the bill after Colorado courts threatened jail time for Fox News reporter Jana Winter if she did not reveal her confidential sources. The committee delayed a vote on the bill until a later date.

Fox News reporter awaits N.Y. top court's decision on subpoena

Latara Appleby | Reporter's Privilege | News | November 15, 2013
November 15, 2013

New York's highest court is now considering whether the state's strong shield law will apply to a Fox News reporter subpoenaed to testify in a Colorado court about her confidential sources in the James Holmes theater shooting case.

Reporter Jana Winter, who lives and works in New York, went before the New York Court of Appeals on Tuesday to fight the subpoena requested by Holmes' attorneys ordering her to reveal her sources in an exclusive story she published in 2012 about a notebook belonging to the alleged gunman. The subpoena was issued in Colorado but had to be served on Winter in New York, and the New York shield law provides greater protection for reporters than the Colorado law does. Winter is arguing that the New York courts should apply New York's protections.

Court rejects James Risen request for rehearing

Latara Appleby | Reporter's Privilege | News | October 16, 2013
October 16, 2013

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit declined a request for rehearing by New York Times reporter James Risen on Tuesday. Of the 14 judges, 13 rejected the petition to rehear the case.

A three-judge panel had ruled in July that Risen would have to testify to the identity of his confidential source in a story involving information leaks from the Central Intelligence Agency.

California expands journalist shield law, requires third-party subpoena notification

Latara Appleby | Reporter's Privilege | News | October 7, 2013
October 7, 2013

In response to the recent controversy about The Associated Press phone records subpoena, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that would expand the existing shield law for the state's journalists.

'Central Park Five' filmmakers not required to turn over outtakes

Cindy Gierhart | Reporter's Privilege | News | September 27, 2013
September 27, 2013

A federal district court judge agreed with a magistrate judge Monday that documentary filmmakers will not have to hand over outtakes from their film "The Central Park Five." The fact that one filmmaker had researched the subject matter for a college thesis did not mean the documentary several years later was lacking journalistic intent, said Judge Deborah A. Batts of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Court orders BBC to hand over unaired documentary footage

Cindy Gierhart | Reporter's Privilege | News | September 23, 2013
September 23, 2013

A federal district court on Thursday ordered the BBC to turn over unseen footage from a 2003 documentary on Yasser Arafat. The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., said the importance of protecting journalists’ newsgathering function is “weaker” when the sources are not confidential.

Illinois reporter found in contempt of court for not revealing sources

Latara Appleby | Reporter's Privilege | News | September 20, 2013
September 20, 2013

An Illinois judge found a reporter in contempt of court today for not revealing his confidential sources for a story he wrote about a double murder in Joliet, Ill.

Hosey has been fined $1,000 and has to pay court fees. He was also fined $300 a day until he reveals his sources, though the fines have been stayed pending an appeal, as reported by Kenneth Schmetterer, the reporter's attorney, filed an appeal immediately after the ruling, reported.