A Pennsylvania judge quashed controversial subpoenas yesterday, deciding that 15 reporters summoned in a grand jury leak probe will not have to testify about their sources, the Associated Press reported.
Defense lawyers asked that the reporters testify to help determine whether a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate apparent breaches of grand jury secrecy.
Reporters were subpoenaed at The AP, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The [Allentown] Morning Call, among others. Dauphin County Judge Todd Hoover previously threw out subpoenas for the journalists’ notes and messages but chose not to immediately decide whether the reporters should testify.
Attorneys for the reporters invoked the state’s shield law to protect the journalists.
After yesterday’s ruling, The Inquirer quoted its attorney Scott K. Baker saying, "We believed all along that the purpose of these subpoenas was to harass members of the media and to chill the press from further reporting on the DeNaples proceedings. . . . Fortunately the judge saw that as well and ruled in our favor."
Hoover has been tasked with looking into leaks from the grand jury that investigated casino owner Louis A. DeNaples months ago. Details of the ostensibly secret grand jury proceedings were reported by local media outlets.
DeNaples, whose Mount Airy Casino Resort is in Mount Pocono, Pa., was ultimately indicted on perjury charges.
He has pleaded not guilty to lying to gaming authorities.