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ERIC Number: ED224032
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1982-Oct
Pages: 9
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Reporter's Privilege.
Slasman, Peggy
Although common law does not provide reporters with the privilege of withholding confidential sources or information before courts of law, reporters have raised First Amendment arguments for such privilege. In Branzburg v. Hayes (1972), a case consolidating three decisions, the Supreme Court ruled heavily, but not absolutely, against such First Amendment protection for reporters. Because of the inclusion of the idea of conditional privilege and its broad scope, the decision has not provided lower courts with definitive guidance. In cases involving a crime, courts have generally found that when a reporter is a witness or participant in the events for which he or she has been subpoenaed, there will be no privilege. In other criminal cases, courts have been more willing to accept that reporters have a qualified privilege. In 1978, Myron Farber went to jail and his employer, the "New York Times," paid over $285,000 in fines, but Farber did not disclose his confidential files. In response to a great increase in subpoenas since the Farber case, members of the press have devised creative strategies to combat or work around the legal system. All in all, two seemingly contradictory trends have emerged: the concept of a qualified, First Amendment privilege for reporters is emerging, while at the same time the number of subpoenas seeking confidential information is increasing. The complexity of society, the costs of litigation, and the court system itself may explain the current situation. (JL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Freedom of Information Center, Columbia, MO.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: First Amendment