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Court of Appeals Orders Detroit Reporter to Answer Pre-trial Questions in Case Involving Confidential Sources

David Ashenfelter

David Ashenfelter

The chess game between an ex-federal prosecutor and a Pulitzer Prize reporter continues to play out in Detroit. The media and federal law enforcement community is watching. The latest court order came down on Thursday.

By JOE SWICKARD
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — A federal appeals court said this afternoon that Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter will have to sit for pretrial questioning by attorneys for a former federal prosecutor wanting to find out who leaked word to Ashenfelter that he was under an internal investigation.
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Free Press attorneys had asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to halt the deposition process ordered by U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland for next Tuesday, but the appellate court said in a two-page order that Ashenfelter hadn’t shown Cleland abused his discretion.

Ashenfelter has refused to name his source for his 2004 story, citing First Amendment freedom of press protections and Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

The former prosecutor, Richard Convertino, came under fire and stood trial for alleged misconduct in a discredited 2003 terror trial. He has said that Ashenfelter may have conspired with the leakers to break federal laws. Convertino was acquitted in 2007 of hiding evidence from defense lawyers in the terror trial.

Cleland has said he’ll decide if Ashenfelter’s assertions are valid on a question-by-question basis.
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