On Wednesday, Cook County Judge Vincent M. Gaughan quashed a subpoena that could have required reporter Jamie Kalven to disclose information about his confidential sources in the trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke is charged with murder for the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Last week, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press quickly mobilized a coalition that included 18 other media organizations to file a brief with the court in support of Kalven’s motion to quash the subpoena. The media coalition’s brief emphasized the importance of the Illinois reporter’s privilege and argued that Kalven was protected by that privilege.
“Jamie Kalven’s reporting in this case was essential to telling the full story of Laquan McDonald’s death, and we’re pleased that the court quashed the subpoena for his testimony, which could have forced him to reveal information about his confidential sources,” said Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “Reporters must be able to protect their sources in order to bring important information, in this case the truth about how McDonald died, to the public.”
In its brief, the coalition wrote:
“The public interest in protecting confidential sources is particularly compelling in this case. Kalven’s reporting exposed misconduct by the Chicago Police Department and an official cover-up that led to a public accounting and an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.”