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Convertino turns to editors in bid to ID sources

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
Attorneys for Richard Convertino, the former prosecutor who until last week was locked in a subpoena battle with a Detroit Free…

Attorneys for Richard Convertino, the former prosecutor who until last week was locked in a subpoena battle with a Detroit Free Press reporter over confidential sources, indicated in a court motion Wednesday they will now pursue editors at the paper for the sources’ names. 

Their shift in attention comes days after reporter David Ashenfelter avoided having to reveal the names at a deposition, successfully invoking the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Convertino is suing the government under the Privacy Act; he claims its employees illegally leaked to Ashenfelter information about an investigation into Convertino’s conduct in a high-profile terrorism trial. The former prosecutor wants Ashenfelter to identify the leakers to boost the lawsuit.

Ashenfelter first tried without success to invoke a First Amendment-based reporter’s privilege in an attempt to keep his sources secret. He then turned to the Fifth Amendment.

Convertino’s attorneys on Wednesday renewed a 2007 motion seeking the testimony of Ashenfelter’s editors, as well as all relevant documents, records and phone logs held by the newspaper. They argued that neither a First Amendment-based privilege nor the Fifth Amendment should shield the editors.