CALIFORNIA — In mid-December a judge stayed his own order that two newspapers, three television stations, and a radio station hand over unpublished material from jailhouse interviews with a kidnapping suspect.
San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Stephan Demetras issued a one-month stay of his order to the San Fransisco Chronicle, the Lodi News-Sentinel and four broadcast stations to comply with subpoenas prepared by prosecutors in connection with the kidnapping of 12-year-old Katie Romanek in July 1994. The subpoenas sought unpublished material from interviews with Steven Cochran, a drifter charged with the kidnapping.
Before issuing the stay, Judge Demetras denied the news media outlets’ motion to quash the subpoenas.
The interviews with Cochran were conducted after Judge Demetras issued an order requiring the news media to retain all material, both published and unpublished, relating to the Romanek case.
Katie Romanek was kidnapped from her home after her sister and a friend were tied up at knife point. Romanek was later found naked but unharmed in a field during a large search operation involving 400 people.
If the judge orders the news media to comply with the subpoenas, the media organizations will appeal the judge’s ruling to the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento, according to their lawyer.
(People v. Cochran; Media Counsel: Neil Shapiro, San Francisco)
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