Thursday, June 09, 2005

Judge creates exception to state's absolute shield law

Even though Pennsylvania law provides unqualified protection against journalists being forced to disclose their confidential sources, a Pennsylvania trial judge has carved out an exception and ordered a former newspaper reporter to reveal her confidential source, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reports. The judge ruled that the shield law must yield to the need to enforce grand jury secrecy in a defamation lawsuit filed against the jointly owned newspapers The Scranton Times and The Scranton Tribune and the former reporter Jennifer Henn. The ruling is being appealed, RCFP says.

The Pennsylvania Shield Law, 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5942(a), provides:
"No person engaged on, connected with, or employed by any newspaper of general circulation or any press association or any radio or television station, or any magazine of general circulation, for the purpose of gathering, procuring, compiling, editing or publishing news, shall be required to disclose the source of any information procured or obtained by such person, in any legal proceeding, trial or investigation before any government unit."

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