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Judge denies Free Press reporter's motion

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
Judge Robert Cleland in Detroit has denied Detroit Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter’s request for an immediate decision on his invocation…

Judge Robert Cleland in Detroit has denied Detroit Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter’s request for an immediate decision on his invocation of the Fifth Amendment to protect confidential sources, according to the court docket.

Ashenfelter is in the midst of battling a subpoena from former federal prosecutor Richard Convertino, who is suing the government over an alleged violation of the Privacy Act. Convertino deposed Ashenfelter in December, hoping to seek information that would boost his lawsuit, but the reporter invoked the Fifth Amendment.

On Monday, Ashenfelter’s lawyers filed a request with Cleland asking the judge to make a determination about a sealed affidavit Ashenfelter submitted last month explaining his justifications for invoking the right against self incrimination at that deposition.

In a four-page ruling issued Tuesday, the judge refused to determine whether Ashenfelter’s use of the Fifth Amendment was justified and refused to certify the question for an interlocutory appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati (6th Cir.). In a separate order, he ruled that Ashenfelter is to appear at a deposition on April 21.

“To the extent Ashenfelter seeks to have this court ‘immediately’ review his submission, such request is moot, as it was reviewed within minutes of it being lodged under seal in chambers. The court views the submission as one piece of evidence to be considered should Ashenfelter choose to pose a Fifth Amendment challenge to questions in his upcoming deposition,” Cleland wrote.