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3. Grand jury

3. Grand jury

There is no statutory or case law in Alabama that addresses the standards for asserting the reporter's privilege to overcome a grand jury subpoena.

3. Grand jury

Under the Louisiana shield law, a grand jury may not serve a subpoena upon a reporter unless the prosecutor has certified in writing that the information sought by the subpoena is "highly material and relevant; bears directly on the guilt or innocence of the accused; and is not obtainable from any alternative source." La. R.S. 45:1459(D)(1). A reporter may assert a qualified privilege and refuse to answer questions before a grand jury unless the reporter has witnessed criminal activity or has physical evidence of a crime. Ridenhour, 520 So.2d at 376.

3. Grand jury

A reporter may be found to be in civil contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury concerning a published interview where the subpoena was not issued for the purpose of harassment. In re Grand Jury Witness Subpoena of Abraham, 92 Ohio App. 3d 186, 634 N.E.2d 667 (1993).

3. Grand jury

Because the statute specifically mentions grand juries, it seems unlikely that there would be a different, or lower, level of protection of sources with respect to grand jury proceedings. There are no appellate court cases construing the statute in the context of a grand jury proceeding. The statute, however, does not apply to federal grand jury subpoenas. In re Grand Jury Subpoena Am. Broad. Co., 947 F. Supp. 1314 (E.D. Ark. 1996).

3. Grand jury

The standards for the privilege do not differ for grand jury subpoenas. See In re John Doe Grand Jury Investigation, 574 N.E.2d 373 (Mass. 1991); In re Pappas, 266 N.E.2d 297 (Mass. 1971).

3. Grand jury

The statute, by its express terms, does not differentiate grand jury from other judicial proceedings. There is no case law interpreting the statute in a grand jury context.

3. Grand jury

The Arizona Shield Law applies to proceedings "before any jury, inquisitorial body or commission . . . ." A.R.S. § 12-2237. In In re Hibberd, an unpublished decision, the Arizona Superior Court reaffirmed the statute's absolute protection for confidential source information in grand jury proceedings. In that case, several homes under construction in Phoenix had been destroyed by fires set by an eco-terrorist/serial arsonist.

3. Grand jury

Although "grand juries" are not expressly mentioned in the shield law statute, it does apply Brady to any "judicial, legislative, administrative or other body with the power to issue a subpoena." 16 M.R.S.A. 61(1).