Newspaper files suit against sheriff who subpoenaed phone records
ILLINOIS–In early June, the Peoria Journal-Star filed suit against a sheriff’s department after the department subpoenaed telephone records of the newsroom and a reporter’s home telephone line.
The lawsuit, filed in Circuit Court in Pekin against the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department, seeks an order requiring all of the records to be returned to the newspaper and reporter Omar Sofradzija.
The journalists contend that the telephone records are protected by reporter’s privilege under the U.S. Constitution and the Illinois shield law. The newspaper maintains that the subpoena of the phone records was an attempt to reveal Sofradzija’s confidential source in violation of the privilege.
The lawsuit also asserts that under the state constitution, every citizen enjoys a privacy interest in their personal phone records.
The department subpoenaed records in connection with a labor arbitration proceeding involving Deputy Bob Lickiss. Lickiss was fired in November and rehired in February at a lower rank. According to the Pekin Daily Times, the records were subpoenaed in an attempt to determine if Lickiss leaked confidential information to the Journal- Star.
The newspaper also has asked the court to quash subpoenas issued to Sofradzija that require his testimony at an arbitration hearing. (Sofradzija v. Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department; Media Counsel: Mary McDade, Peoria)