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Court again finds no privilege for non-confidential material

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
Court again finds no privilege for non-confidential material 02/08/99 NEW YORK--A federal district judge in New York City in mid-…

Court again finds no privilege for non-confidential material

02/08/99

NEW YORK–A federal district judge in New York City in mid- January ordered Reuters News Service to comply with a subpoena demanding non-confidential but unpublished materials, including an audio recording of an interview, related to a Reuters story about a Massachusetts company that is now defending a securities class action in a federal district court in Boston.

Judge William H. Pauley determined that the recent decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York City (2nd Cir.) in Gonzales v. NBC — which held there is no journalistic privilege under the First Amendment for non-confidential information — was controlling and, consequently, ordered disclosure.

“Applying Second Circuit law to the non-confidential information sought here, Gonzales forecloses Reuters’ objection based on a qualified reporter’s privilege,” Pauley wrote.

Pauley also rejected Reuters’ arguments that the subpoena should not be enforced under federal discovery rules because he found the subpoena was not unreasonably cumulative or duplicative and that the information was not available from a more convenient source.

Centennial Technologies, a Billerica, Mass., company, and certain Centennial employees stand accused of violating the Securities and Exchange Act and negligently misrepresenting the company’s financial condition by, among other things, giving false information to Reuters and Wall Street Journal reporters. Published articles contain quotes from Centennial executives, but the subpoenas demanded both published and unpublished materials.

In mid-December another federal district judge in New York City ordered the Wall Street Journal to comply with a subpoena for similar unpublished but non-confidential information related to its financial reporting about Centennial Technologies. (In re Application of Ramaekers)