In late March the Florida state’s attorney withdrew a subpoena served on WPLG-TV in Miami, abandoning attempts to force the station to release a videotape that could have revealed the identities of confidential sources.
Karen Kammer, attorney for WPLG, said the subpoena for the unedited tape was dropped after prosecutors managed to locate the sources without it.
Prosecutors demanded a videotape showing an altercation between Ft. Lauderdale police officers and a man they were attempting to arrest. But the station refused to release portions of the tape that showed the individuals who shot the tape and who had provided it to the station on condition that their identities would not be revealed.
A trial court in Ft. Lauderdale ordered WPLG to release the entire tape, and an appellate court in West Palm Beach affirmed the order. The station was seeking permission to appeal to the state Supreme Court in Tallahassee when the prosecutors agreed to withdraw their subpoena. (Post-Newsweek Stations Florida, Inc. v. Florida; Media Counsel: Karen Kammer, Miami)
In late March, the Mississippi Senate voted not to approve provisions in a House bill requiring state newspapers to print free obituaries, not to mention the subject’s cause of death, and sign all editorials.
The provisions were added in the House as amendments to a legal advertising bill, which had already passed the Senate.
A committee of six lawmakers must now work out a compromise on the two versions of the bill, according to an Associated Press report. (S. 2800)
In mid-March, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted 12-6 to add as an amendment to the Judicial Reform Act a provision that would allow microphones, television cameras and photography in federal district courts as part of a three-year pilot program. The Judicial Reform Act was also approved by the committee in mid-March.
The original bill was sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio). Though no similar proposal currently exists in the Senate, several senators are eager to sponsor such legislation, according to Broadcasting and Cable magazine. (H.R. 1252)
In late March, the Illinois Supreme Court denied, without comment, a petition filed by the Illinois News Broadcasters, the Chicago Headline Club, and the Illinois News Broadcasters Association to allow cameras in Illinois trial courts for a one-year trial period. Cameras are currently allowed only in state appellate courts. (Petition to M.R. 14745)