CALIFORNIA– Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance A. Ito decided in early August that a KNBC-TV reporter will not have to reveal her source for a report last September that DNA tests matched Nicole Simpson’s blood to socks found in O.J. Simpson’s bedroom. Ito said the information was not material to defense claims that police tampered with evidence.
In late July, reporter Tracie Savage invoked the California shield law when ordered to testify. Ito told her he would decide later whether she would be held in contempt after he studied her rights under the law. The shield law protects reporters from being forced to reveal confidential sources, but a judicially created exception allows parties to overcome the privilege when a criminal defendant’s rights are jeopardized.
Savage’s September story was aired before conclusive DNA tests were conducted.
Simpson’s defense team has argued that Savage was tipped off by a police department source who planted blood on the socks, according to The New York Times. The only blood evidence available at the time was from less sophisticated testing.
Ito was highly critical of the report at the time it was broadcast, stating in court that it was wrong since tests had not yet been conducted, the Associated Press reported.
Ito also decided that Phillip Bosco, a writer for Penthouse magazine who reported the same information as Savage, would not have to testify. (California v. Simpson)
The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.