The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Nothing Plain about the Dealer

The tale - we have a Times piece and an E&P piece - is that the Cleveland Plain Dealer is
withholding publication of two major investigative articles because they were based on illegally leaked documents and could lead to penalties against the paper and the jailing of reporters.

In the light of the Judith Miller jailing - editor Doug Clifton certainly namechecks Miller.

At first, it sounds like a phoney: if a crime has been committed (by the leaker), it's been committed already, and CD reporters are witnesses. Publication of the stories would make no difference.

There is a journalist's shield (or reporter's privilege) in Ohio, and this page has more information.

In order to overcome a privilege, a party must show that the information was relevant, could not be obtained from alternative sources, and furthered a compelling need.

And, also,
A reporter may be found to be in civil contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury concerning a published interview where the subpoena was not issued for the purpose of harassment.

My suspicion, based on this sketchy information, is that, until there's a case that's reached the grand jury, no reporter could be compelled to give testimony.

And, without the reporters' spilling their guts, there's nothing to justify a grand jury hearing.

Whereas, if the paper had published the story, there might be.

That's enough reaching. Ed

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