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Nevada shield law upheld; reporter won't have to testify

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
A judge upheld Nevada's media shield law last Friday, quashing a Las Vegas casino tycoon's subpoena of a reporter.

A judge upheld Nevada’s media shield law last Friday, quashing a Las Vegas casino tycoon’s subpoena of a reporter.

Rick Velotta, a reporter for the Las Vegas Sun, covered a legal fight in 2004 between casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his onetime employee, Moshe Hananel, over allegations of owed money. According to the Sun, Adelson filed a defamation lawsuit in 2006, alleging Hananel made false statements in the press about the nature of their relationship.  

Sun attorney Mitchell Langberg said Adelson subpoenaed Velotta in order to "prove the statements [at issue] were actually made, by asking reporters questions regarding their methods and honesty."

Adelson’s attorney, Ryan Loosvelt, argued that the subpoena did not violate the shield law because the topics on which he wanted to question the reporter, including Velotta’s education and newsgathering techniques, went beyond the scope of the reporter’s privilege, according to the paper.

U.S. Magistrate Peggy Leen issued an eight-page order quashing the subpoena on the grounds that it was “merely an attempt to obtain indirectly what Adelson may not obtain directly under [the shield law],” according to the paper.

Langberg said in an interview he was "not surprised" by the decision, and that "it was right, given the iron-clad nature of the Nevada shield law."