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Reporter gets reprieve from jail sentence

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials

    NMU         CALIFORNIA         Confidentiality/Privilege         Feb 9, 2000    

Reporter gets reprieve from jail sentence

  • Appeals to the state’s highest court kept a journalist out of jail after he was ordered to serve time for refusing to reveal sources.

Tehama County Superior Court Judge Noel Watkins stayed enforcement of his contempt order against the editor and publisher of a California newspaper recently. Tim Crews of the Sacramento Valley Mirror in Artios was previously ordered to report to jail at 1 p.m. Feb. 7.

Watkins, however, decided the day Crews’ sentence was to begin to stay his order until Feb. 25 to allow the California Supreme Court time to review Crews’ case.

Crews filed two petitions for review with the California Supreme Court asking the state high court to review the contempt order. Crews was held in contempt and ordered to jail after refusing to reveal his sources for a story relating to a theft charge against California Highway Patrol officer Dewey Anderson. Anderson has pleaded not guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges relating to an allegedly stolen firearm.

Crews reported in the Valley Mirror that he was informed by officers that Anderson had stolen a handgun and that he was read portions of a written report concerning Anderson. The trial court found that the need of Anderson’s defense attorneys to know the identity of Crews’ sources outweighs Crews’ protection under California’s shield law.

Roger Myers filed a letter in support of Crews’ petition on behalf of several media outlets, including McClatchy Newspapers Inc. and Hearst, with the California Supreme Court. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press also filed a letter in support of Crews’ petition.

(Crews v. Tehama County Superior Court; Media Counsel: Charity Kenyon, Sacramento)

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