LOUISIANA–WDSU-TV investigative reporter Richard Angelico has refused to pay a court fine for reporting on documents related to an investigation into the Kennedy assassination and has appealed the case to the federal Court of Appeals in New Orleans (4th Cir.).
The federal District Court in New Orleans found Angelico guilty of contempt and imposed a three-month suspended jail sentence and a $100 fine in late February. The contempt charge stemmed from Angelico’s reports on documents created by prosecutors during the 1969 grand jury investigation led by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. Angelico received the documents from a former investigator with the district attorney’s office, who was also cited for contempt and sentenced to a six months jail term. The investigator remains free pending his appeal.
Federal District Court Judge Frank Marullo disagreed with Angelico’s argument that reporters have a constitutional right under the First Amendment to publish information that comes into their possession. Marullo said he could find no basis for Angelico’s assertion that Louisiana’s state secrecy laws apply only to court officials, not to reporters. The judge stated that he was aware of possible First Amendment conflicts, but said that “just because it’s No. 1, doesn’t mean it ranks higher than No. 3, No. 6, No. 8 or No. 10.”
(Louisiana v. Angelico; Media Counsel: Julian Murray, New Orleans)