The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, joined by 42 other news organizations and associations, argued in a friend-of-the-court brief that a New York court should not have allowed a Colorado subpoena to be served on a Fox News reporter in the Auroro, Colo., shooting case, because New York’s strong public policy of protecting reporters’ sources would not be satisfied under Colorado law.
“In the absence of even a cursory consideration of the public policy protecting such journalist-source relationships embodied in New York’s Shield Law, journalists would constantly be at risk of being subpoenaed,” the brief argued. “The strong public policy in averting that outcome should have been considered and warrants this Court’s reversal of the lower court decision.”
Fox News reporter Jana Winter is appealing the New York court’s order to enforce the Colorado subpoena. This action is distinct from the action to quash the subpoena in Colorado, which has been suspended until the judge determines how relevant the underlying evidence will be to the case.
On July 25, Winter reported on Foxnews.com that a notebook belonging to shooting defendant James Holmes — which he sent to his psychiatrist before he allegedly killed 12 movie theatergoers — contained disturbing images and details of the mass murder. The reporter cited two unnamed law enforcement officials as her sources. The judge in the case had issued a strict gag order on all parties and the notebook was considered sealed evidence.
About the Reporters Committee: Founded in 1970, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press offers free legal support to thousands of working journalists and media lawyers each year. It is a leader in the fight against persistent efforts by government officials to impede the release of public information, whether by withholding documents or threatening reporters with jail. In addition to its 24/7 Legal Defense Hotline, the Reporters Committee conducts cutting-edge legal research, publishes handbooks and guides on media law issues, files frequent friend-of-the-court legal briefs and offers challenging fellowships and internships for young lawyers and journalists. For more information, go towww.rcfp.org, or follow us on Twitter @rcfp.
Related Reporters Committee resources:
· Brief: In re Holmes v. Winter