The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has released anew 50-state guide of the reporter’s privilege that will allow lawyers acrossthe country to more easily help journalists fight court orders to turn overtheir notes or reveal confidential sources.
The project, the mostextensive work on the reporter’s privilege available anywhere, is free for alllawyers and journalists to use. Each state and federal circuit guide wascompiled by lawyers in that jurisdiction who have handled cases involvingjournalists subpoenaed to turn over materials or information. The guides, whichare available online, contain summaries of the law and practical advice on howto fight subpoenas from the time they are served until they are challengedthrough the trial and appellate courts. In addition, an opening sectiondescribes the ins and outs of the reporter’s privilege generally.
“Wehope that lawyers who deal infrequently with subpoenaed journalists find thisguide to be helpful in getting subpoenas quashed,” said Reporters CommitteeExecutive Director Lucy A. Dalglish. “We also hope journalists will find it auseful guide for reducing the risk of being subpoenaed.”
While theReporters Committee cautions that the guide is primarily designed to helplawyers unfamiliar with the reporter’s privilege fight a subpoena in court,student journalists can learn more about the reporter’s privilege and how itapplies to their work.
SPLC View: This is a fantastic new resource thatevery newsroom in America should bookmark. While it should not be used bystudent journalists to contest a subpoena in court on their own, it cancertainly help students and advisers familiarize themselves with the basicworkings and scope of the privilege before problems arise. As always, studentjournalists that receive a subpoena should immediately contact an experiencedmedia law attorney or the Student Press Law Center for assistance.