Posts Tagged ‘Shield law’


FOI Daily Dose: NY shield law blocks casino tycoon’s subpoena against Wall Street Journal

Fans of the proposed federal shield law, the Free Flow of Information Act, will be happy to hear that the New York state shield law protected a Wall Street Journal reporter’s rights to keep her email messages and notes concealed from a casino tycoon in trial court last week.

Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands Corporation wanted records from Wall Street Journal reporter Kate O’Keeffe for an article she wrote in December detailing the wrongful termination of employee Steve Jacobs, former head of Adelson’s Macau casino operations in China.

Jacobs filed a wrongful termination suit in the Nevada court in 2010, and in June 2012, he issued a court filing saying Adelson had “personally approved” a prostitution strategy on Macau properties, according to the Wall Street Journal.

After O’Keeffe published Jacobs’ story, Adelson filed a libel lawsuit Feb. 22 against O’Keeffe. Adelson’s lawyers subpoenaed The Wall Street Journal’s parent company, News Corp., asking for all the newspaper’s communications and documents with Jacobs, as well as O’Keeffe’s phone records with Jacobs since Jan. 1, 2010.

Apparently, they thought O’Keeffe’s records could serve as evidence in Adelson’s defamation suit against Jacobs, according to the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press.

But a four-page opinion by Judge Donna M. Mills on May 31 squashed the subpoena, saying Adelson failed to prove that the material he was seeking was highly relevant, critical to his claim and not obtainable through another reasonable method, which the state shield law requires.

Even so, the decision could be appealed to a higher New York state court, according to the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press.

Kara Hackett is SPJ’s Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern, a freelance writer and a free press enthusiast. Contact her at khackett@spj.org or on Twitter: @KaraHackett.

FOI DAILY DOSE: NYT reporter subpoenaed in CIA leak case and Wisconsin voting issues

NY TIMES REPORTER SUBPOENAED

A New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winner, James Risen, was subpoenaed by the U.S. Department of Justice for the trial of a suspected government whistleblower.

The accused leaker, Jeffrey Sterling, was indicted in December 2010 by a federal grand jury in Virginia. He is on trial for allegedly providing national defense information to Risen that appeared in a 2006 book called “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.”

No federal law exists that exempts journalists from testifying. Risen’s lawyer told The Associated Press he would attempt to have a judge override the subpoena.

The Society of Professional Journalists has, with other journalism groups and news outlets, pushed for a federal shield law in recent years. The proposed Free Flow of Information Act would protect journalists like Risen from turning over confidential sources and notes in federal cases, though there would be certain national security exceptions.

WISCONSIN

In Wisconsin, Media Trackers investigated voting practices during the April 5 election using open records requests.

From a small sample of registrations in 15 wards, Media Trackers found evidence of incomplete voter registrations and possible voter registration abuses.

Providing proof of residence for voters was a major problem uncovered by the records request. In one instance, a voter provided an acceptance letter from the University of Minnesota as a proof of residence, which wouldn’t be deemed acceptable under the guidelines by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email (mwatkins@spj.org) or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).

FOI Links: Autopsy reports and invoking the shield law

FOI Links: The search for military records and compliance with a subpoena

FOI Links: Threatened whistleblowers in India and huge bonuses for federal workers

Shields up! Contact your U.S. senator today! (or at least before Thursday)

Now is the time to contact your U.S. senator to support the federal shield law. On Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider passing S. 448, the Free Flow of Infomation Act. The bill isn’t perfect, but it would provide projection to people who commit acts of journalism from willy-nilly federal subpoenas.

Act now. It’s easy. Go to this page to find your U.S. senator and then click on an easy online form to submit your thoughts on the matter. For a list of the senators on the Judiciary Committee, with links to online contact information, see below. Also, for a great tip sheet on how to deal with a subpoena, check out this great tip sheet provided at the SPJ national conference last month.

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee members (click on the name below to get you to each senator’s contact message form – it’s easy!):

Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Ranking Member
Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Edward Kaufman (D-Del.)
Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)
Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)
Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.)
Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Al Franken (D-Minn.)
Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)
Arlen Specter (D-Pa.)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman
Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)
Russell Feingold (D-Wis.)

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