NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · OHIO · Confidentiality/Privilege · Feb. 15, 2007
Reporters can keep notes but may testify
Feb. 15, 2007 · Two Cincinnati Enquirer reporters will not be required to turn over notes from their interviews with two murder suspects, but they may still have to testify in court under a deal reached Wednesday with prosecutors.
Enquirer attorney Jack Greiner said the agreement also will allow reporters Sheila McLaughlin and Eileen Kelley to attend the trial of Liz Carroll, who is on trial for murder in the death of her 3-year-old foster son.
The agreement came a day after Judge Robert Ringland refused to quash the subpoenas issued to the reporters and ordered them to turn over the notes of their jailhouse interviews with Carroll and her husband, David, who is also charged with murder. Ringland also ordered the reporters to hand over notes from an interview with a key prosecution witness, Amy Baker. The notes were to be submitted directly to the judge, who would decide whether to turn them over to prosecutors.
Prosecutors also had said they would ask for a separation order so that McLaughlin and Kelley would not be allowed to remain in court while other witnesses testified. The Enquirer had asked for an exception so the two could cover the trial, but the judge refused the request Tuesday.
However, under the deal reached Wednesday, prosecutors agreed to withdraw the old subpoenas — making the judge’s order moot — and issue new subpoenas not asking for the notes.
The newspaper, in turn, agreed to drop its appeal seeking to stay the judge’s order and will not contest the subpoenas if prosecutors decide the reporters’ testimony is needed, Greiner said. That determination will depend on whether Liz Carroll testifies and what she says in court.
Greiner said the agreement addressed the journalists’ major concerns with the original subpoenas.
“It was really a matter of principle,” he said. “It was not a situation where there were grave concerns with what was in the notes or anything. We just feel that reporters shouldn’t be compelled to turn notes over absent very compelling circumstances that we didn’t really think were present here.”
(Ohio v. Liz Carroll, Media Counsel: John C. Greiner, Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP, Cincinnati) — RG