Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » November 2005 » More About that Non-Existent Absolute Reporter Priviledge...

[« And there's even more about the Sony-BMG rootkit....] [Heard this on the radio this morning.... »]

11/18/2005: More About that Non-Existent Absolute Reporter Priviledge...

Yet another Court has ruled on the issue of what kind of *qualified* priviledge rules govern in this case and when reporters MUST comply with a Court's ruling to discuss their sources: From Wen Ho Lee v Dept. of Justice (pages 4 & 5).

"...In August of 2002, Dr. Lee issued subpoenas to journalists James Risen and Jeff Gerth of The New York Times, Robert Drogin of The Los Angeles Times, H. Josef Hebert of the Associated Press, and Pierre Thomas of CNN seeking testimony and documents concerning the identity of the leakers. Id. Each of these journalists filed motions to quash their subpoenas on the grounds of a reporter’s privilege to refuse to reveal confidential news sources.

On October 9, 2003, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issued an order denying each of the five journalists’ motions to quash and ordering them to sit for depositions and to “truthfully answer questions as to the identity of any officer or agent of defendants . . . who provided information to them directly about Wen Ho Lee, and as to the nature of the information so provided.”

In rejecting the journalists’ assertions of privilege, the Court relied on the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Zerilli v. Smith, 656 F.2d 705 (D.C. Cir. 1981), which “laid out guidelines for balancing First Amendment interests with a litigant’s need for information when a plaintiff seeks to subpoena a non-party journalist in the context of a civil action.” Lee, 413 F.3d at 56-57. Zerilli recognized “a limited privilege upon which a reporter might withhold testimony on First Amendment grounds if it would compromise a confidential news source.” However, a plaintiff can overcome this qualified privilege and compel a journalist to reveal the identity of his or her confidential sources if

(1) the information sought goes “to the heart of” the plaintiff’s case and

(2) the plaintiff has exhausted “every reasonable alternative source of information” before seeking testimony from the journalist(s).

[Zerilli, 656 F.2d at 713; cf. Lee v. Dep’t of Justice, No. 04-5301, 2005 WL 2874940, at *2-3 (D.C. Cir. Nov. 2, 2005) (Tatel and Garland, JJ., dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc) (arguing for a different interpretation of Zerilli) (“Lee (Denial of Rehearing)”). ]

Judge Jackson determined that Dr. Lee had clearly met both Zerilli requirements to overcome the journalists’ qualified privilege, and that at this stage in the litigation “only [the journalists] can testify as to whether defendants were the sources for the various news stories...”

Walter Pincus has refused to comply with this ruling of the Court and is now under a Contempt of Court Citation and a fine of $500 per day (but no jail time is involved in a civil case).

But the REAL issue is that there is NO ABOLUTE, UN-QUALIFED Priviledge for a Reporter. They have no legal standing to refuse to reveal the confidentiality of a source when ordered to do so by a Court under the balancing test of the First Amendment protections as stated above.

And these reporters, like Bob Woodward, Walter Pincus or Judy Miller, who think they have some ability to make up the rules to suit their own individual needs are just WRONG. Morally, Legally and Ethically WRONG under certain circumstances. So, they need to get off their First Amendment High-Horse and play by the rules that exist in the real world.

Karen on 11.18.05 @ 07:55 AM CST

[ | ]

November 2005

Archives of Blogger site
Archives: May '04-Feb '05
Archives: Feb-March '05

Powered by gm-rss

Len's sidebar:
About Len (The uncondensed version)
Memorial to a dear friend
Frederick W. Benteen
The Web of Leonards
The St. Louis Cardinals
The Memphis Redbirds
The St. Louis Browns
The Birdwatch
Hey! Spring of Trivia Blog
BlogMemphis (The Commercial Appeal's listing of Memphis blogs)
The Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything
George Dubya Bush Blows
asshat.org (be sure to refresh your window for more "wit and wisdom" from Our Beloved Leader)
Taking the Fight to Karl
Main and Central (blog by, for and about veterans and their issues)
Kraftwerk: Chicago, 6/4/2005
My Chicago: Part One
My Chicago, Part Two
Millennium Park
Miscellaneous Chicago
Busch Stadium Tour and BoSox/Cards Game: 6/6/2005
St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum
Len's All-Busch Stadium Team (and the voting results)
BP's Postseason Odds (Monte Carlo Simulations)

Len's extended blogroll:

Brock's Sidebar:
About Brock
The Agitator
Armchair Capitalists
Boing Boing
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
The Decembrist
Dispatches from the Culture Wars
Flypaper Theory
Heretical Ideas
John and Belle Have a Blog
Jon Rowe
Lawyers, Guns, and Money
Literal Minded
Marginal Revolution
Matthew Yglesias
Oliver Willis
Orin Kerr
Political Animal
Signifying Nothing
Unqualified Offerings

Moonbat Icon

Karen's Sidebar
About Karen
The Ig-Nobel Prizes
The Annals of Improbable Research
The Darwin Awards
EBaums World
Real Clear Politics
U.S. News Wire
Foreign Affairs
The Capitol Steps
Legal Affairs
Nobel Laureates for Change
Program On International Policy
Law of War
Sunday Times
Media Matters
Is That Legal?
Andrew Sullivan
Literal Minded
Jon Rowe
Freespace Blog
Thought Not
Publius Pundit
Blog Maverick
Rosenberg Blog
Crooked Timber

The Rocky Top Brigade:

A New Memphis Mafia

The Old Memphis Mafia

The liberal alternative to Drudge.

Get Firefox!

Explorer Destroyer

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Len supports:
Operation Yellow Elephant:

"Because ranting is safer than enlisting"
Operation Yellow Elephant Blog

The Rebel Alliance of Yankee Haters
Blue Squadron (NL)
Babalu (Marlins)
Leaning Toward the Dark Side (Mets)
Ramblings' Journal (Cubs)
Mediocre Fred (Brewers)
Len Cleavelin (Cardinals)
Red Squadron (AL)
Obscurorama (Red Sox)
Frinklin Speaks (Mariners)
Steve Silver (Twins)
Steve the Llama Butcher (Red Sox)
Rob the Llama Butcher (Rangers)
MoatesArt (Red Sox)
Rammer (Tigers)
JawsBlog (Indians)
Ubi Libertas (Blue Jays)
Oldsmoblogger (Indians)
Mass Backwards (Red Sox)
Industrial Blog
Cry Freedom

Blogrings/Blog indexes/Blog search:
« ? Verbosity # »

Listed on Blogwise
Blogarama - The Blog Directory
Popdex Citations
Blog Search Engine

Greymatter Forums Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com
template by linear