A Fox News reporter is scheduled to appear before a Colorado judge on Monday to testify about who leaked her information regarding the notebook of movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes.
Arapahoe County Judge William Sylvester on Wednesday denied New York-based reporter Jana Winter’s request to postpone her appearance pending her appeal in a New York appellate court regarding the subpoena issued in that state for her to testify in Colorado. Winter’s attorneys filed a number of requests in Arapahoe County District Court on Thursday to quash the subpoena, but by late Friday afternoon court records showed no response from Judge Sylvester.
Winter’s New York attorney Dori Hanswirth declined to comment whether her client was already in Colorado on Friday.
On July 25, Winter reported on Foxnews.com that Holmes’ notebook — which he sent to his psychiatrist before he allegedly killed 12 movie theatergoers — contained disturbing images and details of the mass murder. The reporter cited two unnamed law enforcement officials as her sources. Sylvester had issued a strict gag order on everyone involved in the case and the notebook was considered sealed evidence.
In a Dec. 10 hearing before Sylvester, 14 law enforcement officials denied leaking the details to Winter. Holmes’ attorneys then said they would subpoena the reporter in New York and bring her to Colorado to testify.
Earlier this month, a New York judge signed the subpoena for Winter. According to Hanswirth, the New York appellate court notified her on Friday that it granted Winter’s request for an expedited appeal regarding her attempts to quash the subpoena.
But it was not clear by late Friday if the New York appellate court’s decision would affect Winter’s scheduled appearance on Monday. Winter has argued that if she was compelled to appear on Monday, it would deny her the right to appeal the subpoena in New York, according to court documents.
Another twist came late this week when Holmes' offered to plead guilty in exchange for life in prison instead of the death penalty. The Colorado prosecutors promptly rejected the offer and accused the defense of making a "calculated" move for attention, according to court documents.
Even if Holmes pleaded guilty, Sylvester could still pursue the violation of the gag order involving Winter and the notebook.
Winter's attorneys in Colorado and New York have said the reporter will seek the shelter of either state's shield law. It would be up to Sylvester to determine which state's shield law to apply, if any.
New York's shield law is one of the strongest in the nation and provides an absolute privilege for a reporter's confidential sources. Colorado's shield law allows only a qualified privilege for confidential sources.