Monday, July 25, 2005

Senate panel voices support for shield law

The Senate Judiciary Committee last week gave "a generally positive reception" to a federal shield law, the New York Times reports. Reporter Lorne Manly writes:
"The Senate Judiciary Committee gave a generally positive reception on Wednesday to proposed legislation that would protect journalists from having to divulge confidential sources in most cases. But a harshly worded dissent from the Justice Department, which called the bill 'bad public policy' that would hamper its ability to enforce the law and fight terrorism, underscored the difficult road the legislation faces in becoming law."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Senate judiciary committee takes up shield law tomorrow

The U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary is scheduled to meet tomorrow to hear testimony on a federal reporters' shield law. According to the notice of hearing, scheduled witnesses include Time Magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper, Time Editor-in-Chief Norman Pearlstine, New York Times political columnist William Safire, Deputy Attorney General James Comey, University of Chicago Law Professor Geoffrey Stone and Washington, D.C., lawyer Lee Levine.

More on Friday's shield law ruling

Two more reports on Friday's shield law ruling from the 11th Circuit:

Friday, July 15, 2005

11th Circuit says First Amendment protects reporter's source

In an opinion issued today, Price v. Time Inc., the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the First Amendment protects a Sports Illustrated reporter from having to reveal his confidential source. Applying a balancing test, the court found that the plaintiff failed to prove that he made reasonable efforts to discover the information from alternative sources. The ruling came in a libel case brought by former University of Alabama football head coach Mike Price against SI and reporter Don Yaeger.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Boston Herald calls for shield law

The Boston Herald, in an editorial published yesterday, Only a shield law can thaw the chill, says this isn't just about the press. "It's about granting all journalists the protections that allow us to do our jobs - in the interest of keeping the public better informed."

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Newspapers ask stiffer penalties for violations of open meeting law

Today's MetroWest Daily News reports on yesterday's legislative hearing:
"Hoping to thwart local and state boards from illegally deciding public matters in secret meetings, newspaper advocates asked lawmakers yesterday to add teeth to the state's Open Meeting Law."
Follow the link above to read reporter Emelie Rutherford's complete story.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Legislative committee takes up open meetings bills

The Massachusetts legislature's Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight heard testimony today on six bills filed by the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association to toughen the enforcement provisions of the state's open meetings laws.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Dianne Wilkerson (D-Boston) and Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral (D-New Bedford), heard testimony by me, as MNPA executive director, and by media lawyer Peter J. Caruso of North Andover, who serves as counsel to the MNPA.

Several members of the committee expressed support for the bills. Rep. Cabral said his position on open meeting law reform may be even stricter -- he would like to see elimination of some of the statutory exceptions. Rep. Michael E. Festa (D-Melrose), House vice chair of the committee, said that as a former school committee member in Melrose, he had seen officials skirt the law. "I think the legislation makes perfect sense," he said. Rep. Marie J. Parente (D-Milford), said that she supports these bills because the open meeting law cannot be effective if there are no penalties for its violation.

The six bills -- H. 3517, H. 3518, H. 3519, H.3619, H. 3620 and H. 3621 -- would amend the open meeting laws to:
  • Make it a misdemeanor for an official to knowingly and intentionally violate the law, punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 for a first offense and not more than $2,500 for subsequent offenses.
  • Authorize courts to impose a $500 civil fine against officials who attend meetings in violation of the law.
  • Authorize courts to award attorneys' fees and costs in actions to enforce the law.
  • Authorize courts to impose a $1,000 civil fine against state bodies that violate the law, in the same way that the law now authorizes fines against local bodies.
The committee is not expected to act on the bills until September.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The single-best resource on shield laws

Yesterday's jailing of New York Times reporter Judith Miller for refusing to disclose her sources heightens national attention on reporters' shield laws. For anyone wanting to learn more about reporters, subpoenas and shield laws, there is no better resource on the Web than The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Its special section, Reporters and Federal Subpoenas, provides in-depth and frequently updated coverage of efforts to enact a federal shield law as well as of ongoing legal controversies involving reporters' subpoenas. A separate section, The Reporter's Privilege, is a detailed examination, written in 2002, of the law regarding the reporter's privilege in every state and federal circuit. It provides statutes and cases and discusses both substantive and procedural issues.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Pearlstine: Editors not above the law

Norman Pearlstine, editor-in-chief of Time, tells CNN that editors are not above the law.

Media lax as feds go on free press attack

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin asks why her colleague Robert Novak is not also headed to jail and why the media have not done more "to trumpet what I think should be our profound outrage at what's going on."

Meanwhile, Novak tells CNN he will reveal all once the case is closed.