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Tag: shield law

U.S. Atty. Fitzgerald Says Reporters Need To Disclose Sources When Ordered

Patrick Fitzgerald says reporters must obey when ordered by a judge to reveal sources. I disagree. Some of the biggest corruption scandals would never have come to light without reporters’ willingness to protect sources and go to jail if necessary. Besides, the real point here is that Congress needs to pass a federal shield law to protect reporters and sources. That would end the argument about being above the law.

Patrick Fitzgerald/ticklethewire.com photo

Patrick Fitzgerald/ticklethewire photo

By James Podgers
ABA Journal
CHICAGO – Journalists should not put themselves above the law in their efforts to protect sources and confidential information, said Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, today at a program during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Prosecutors and reporters share an interest in gathering information that can help expose corruption and uncover wrongdoing by government officials and those who wield power, Fitzgerald said, but those interests do not always match.

“No one is against the right to know,” said Fitzgerald at the program sponsored by the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, “but we both have strong views about the best way to get to the truth in a particular case.” He emphasized that his comments were not intended to reflect policy positions of the Obama administration.

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Ex- New York Times Reporter Judith Miller Says Press Battle With Ex-Fed Prosecutor Shows Need For Shield Law

By Judith Miller
New York Post

ON April 20, Detroit Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter may win his second Pulitzer Prize.

Judith Miller/photo judithmiller.com

Judith Miller/photo judithmiller.com

The next day, he may head to jail.

Ashenfelter, 60, is the latest reporter to face prison for refusing to reveal his confidential sources — in this case, for a story he wrote in 2004 about alleged misconduct by a prosecutor in a terrorism case in Detroit soon after 9/11.

Jail time became a real possibility when US District Judge Robert Cleland recently refused to delay Ashenfelter’s deposition about his sources or let him take his case to an appeals court.

The case is unusual in that Ashenfelter claims that his refusal to divulge the identify of his sources is justified not only by the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression, but also by the Fifth Amendment, which protects him against self-incrimination.

Many journalists have been uneasy about this invocation of the Fifth Amendment — arguing that it suggests, inaccurately, that he may have done something wrong. But the lack of a federal shield law that would legitimize his stance has forced Ashenfelter to resort to some legal creativity.

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