OHIO — Lisa Abraham, a reporter imprisoned in mid-January for refusing to testify before a grand jury, remained in jail in early February as a state trial judge and appeals court refused to reconsider their rulings.
Abraham, a reporter for the Tribune Chronicle in Warren, refused to answer questions regarding an article she wrote about a government official who was under investigation. Abraham did not promise the official confidentiality; she maintained that reporters should not be forced to participate in grand jury investigations. Abraham was jailed after the Ohio Supreme Court in Columbus chose not to hear her appeal in mid- January.
While she was in jail, Abraham’s lawyers argued before the trial judge and the appeals court that her confinement for civil contempt was no longer necessary. They noted that the grand jury investigating the government official had already indicted him on numerous counts. Thus the subpoena to Abraham served no legitimate purpose and amounted to harassment, they maintained.
In late January the trial court in Warren refused to release Abraham, and in early February the Ohio Court of Appeals in Warren rejected a motion to reconsider its initial ruling that upheld the trial court.
Abraham is expected to remain in jail until the term of the grand jury expires in mid- February.
(In re Grand Jury Witness Subpoena of Lisa Abraham; Media Counsel: Charles Richards, Warren)
The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.