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Judge undresses D.C. Madam's subpoena

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson on Wednesday denied Deborah Jeane Palfrey’s attempt to subpoena ABC News' research into her…

U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson on Wednesday denied Deborah Jeane Palfrey’s attempt to subpoena ABC News‘ research into her phone records. Palfrey, the so called “D.C. Madam,” hoped to obtain access to the research ABC completed after she offered the network full access to her phone records.

After combing through the records, ABC identified several high ranking government officials who had used the alleged prostitution service. Palfrey, who now represents herself against criminal charges stemming from her role in running the escort service, claims that she has not had such luck tracking down her former clients. She believes the clients will verify that her company was an “erotic fantasy service” and not a prostitution ring.

Robertson though, denied the request, agreeing with ABC’s reporters that subpoenas cannot be used to discover information that is not evidence itself, but rather might lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. In doing so, he did not address ABC’s contentions that their work product is protected by the First Amendment.

The end result is the same, but Robertson passed on an opportunity to reinforce the false notion that journalists should be the research arm of litigants. By her own admission, Palfrey was simply hoping to piggyback on the work of reporters rather than perform her own work.