Court orders student editor to turn over reporters’ notes, negatives

CALIFORNIA –– The Appellate Department of Sacramento Superior Courtagreed Feb. 25 to postpone the sentencing of a college newspaper editorwho refused to turn over photo negatives and witness names collected byhis newspaper.

David Sommers, editor of The State Hornet,the student newspaperat California State University at Sacramento, had refused to give materialsHornetreporters had gathered for a story about the arrest of a manat a university football game to the man’s attorney.

The attorney subpoenaed copies of film negatives and notesHornetreportershad taken during the football game where the man, Gustavo Chavez, was chargedwith resisting arrest. In addition, Chavez’s attorney subpoenaed photonegatives and notes taken by Hornetreporters during protests bythe university’s Latino community after a picture of Chavez was publishedon the front page of the Hornet.In December, a superior court judgeordered Sommers to turn over the photo negatives and the names of witnessesthe newspaper compiled during Chavez’s arrest.

Sommers appealed the superior court’s decision in January, but the appellatedivision of the superior court upheld the lower court’s decision Feb. 23.Sommers appealed the case to the state court of appeals, and the judgeand the prosecutor agreed to postpone his sentencing until the appellatecourt issues a decision.