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Judge rejects subpoenas for reporters, dodges privilege issue

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
A federal trial judge in San Diego ruled on Monday that a defense contractor convicted of bribing former U.S. Rep.…

A federal trial judge in San Diego ruled on Monday that a defense contractor convicted of bribing former U.S. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham could not subpoena reporters to determine the source of leaks in his grand jury investigation.

In doing so, though, Judge Larry A. Burns refused to reach the reporters’ arguments that the First Amendment and California’s shield law protected them from being hailed to court. Rather, Burns rejected the attempt because Brent Wilkes could not show that he suffered any injustice as a result of the leak.

“Having been convicted by a jury . . . Wilkes must now show the fairness of his trial was prejudiced by the grand jury leaks,” Burns wrote, adding that while he shared the defendant’s concern over the leak, it did not, of itself, justify dismissing the indictment.