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Reporters Committee releases compendium on reporter's privilege laws

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A new detailed compendium of the reporter's privilege in every state and federal circuit will allow lawyers across the country…

A new detailed compendium of the reporter’s privilege in every state and federal circuit will allow lawyers across the country to more easily help journalists quash subpoenas for their work product and testimony, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press announced today.

“We hope that lawyers who deal infrequently with subpoenaed journalists find this guide to be helpful in getting subpoenas quashed,” said Reporters Committee Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish. “We also hope journalists will find it a useful guide for reducing the risk of being subpoenaed.”

The project, the most extensive work on the reporter’s privilege available anywhere, is free for all lawyers and journalists to use. Each state and federal circuit guide was compiled by lawyers in that jurisdiction who have handled subpoena cases. The guides contain summaries of the law and practical advice on how to fight subpoenas from the time they are served until they are challenged through the trial and appellate courts. In addition, an opening section describes the ins and outs of the reporter’s privilege generally.

Concerns over the number of subpoenas served on journalists nationwide coupled with the fact that many journalists do not have access to attorneys who are experts in the unique field of the reporter’s privilege prompted the Reporters Committee to undertake this project. It is primarily designed to help lawyers unfamiliar with the reporter’s privilege fight a subpoena in court, but journalists can learn more about the reporter’s privilege and how it applies to their work. (A journalist served with a subpoena should contact an attorney to fight it, and should not try to use this guide to argue in court. The Reporters Committee can often help journalists find attorneys in their area.)

The project, made possible through a generous grant of the Phillip L. Graham Fund, can be found on the Reporters Committee’s Web site at: www.rcfp.org/privilege