By Andrew M. Seaman | January 11th, 2010
SPJ joined three other organizations in an amicus curiae brief, which supports a motion to stop a subpoena from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
The subpoena is demanding notes and other materials created by the student journalists involved with the Project’s investigation of Anthony McKinney, who has been in prison for 31 years for murder.
The students found information that led a judge to grant McKinney another hearing, which then led the Cook County state’s attorney to subpoena the information.
SPJ joined the Student Press Law Center, the College Media Advisers, Inc. and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in the brief.
The brief argues that, while collecting the information, the students were reporters. As reporters, the students are protected by the Illinois Reporter’s Privilege Act.
A judge accepted the brief and has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 10.
The Student Press Law Center has a copy of the brief on its website in PDF format.
In related news, ChicagoBreakingNews.com is reporting, “Today, an attorney representing the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, CBS News, the Washington Post and the Hearst Corp. – in addition to a dozen more newsgathering organizations – filed a brief in Cook County Circuit Court opposing the forced surrender of the material.”
Hopefully justice will prevail in the end, and the court will realize, as they did in Tinker v. Des Moines, that students and teachers do not shed their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate.
We will keep you posted on future developments.