In a hunt for the source of a grand jury leak, lawyers for a Pennsylvania casino owner have demanded that 15 reporters, including several from The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Associated Press, turn over their notes and personal cell phone bills.
The subpoenas are part of a judge’s hearing into whether a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the leak.
Two [Allentown] Morning Call reporters were among those served with subpoenas Wednesday by attorneys for Louis DeNaples. The Poconos businessman was charged earlier this year with perjury in his sworn testimony to gaming authorities.
The reporters were told to appear in court, notes in hand, on June 30.
”This is an attempt to inhibit the legitimate gathering of information by the press about issues of urgent interest to the citizens of Pennsylvania,” Ardith Hilliard, Morning Call vice president, told a reporter for the paper. ”We will vigorously defend our rights to fulfill this duty to the public. I am confident those rights will be upheld.”
Attorney Gayle C. Sproul, on behalf of The Morning Call and the AP, said they "will rely on the protections afforded by state and federal law."
While a federal shield law is still being hashed out in Congress, Pennsylvania law provides reporters an absolute privilege against having to reveal their confidential sources in court. Just last year, in another case of a grand jury leak, the state Supreme Court overruled a lower court’s attempts to force a Scranton reporter to break a promise of confidentiality.