CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Panel Discussion, "The Reporter as Witness for the Prosecution," Feb. 10

Yale Law School will host a panel discussion on Friday, February 10, at 12:30 p.m., in Room 129, titled "The Reporter as Witness for the Prosecution." The panel will feature Robert G. Kaiser, associate editor of the Washington Post; Robert Post, the David Boies Professor of Law at YLS; and Kate Stith, the Lafayette S. Foster Professor of Law and a former federal prosecutor. Marcia Chambers MSL '81, a former reporter for The New York Times, will moderate.

In recent years, reporters for print, television, and a variety of online publications have faced legal sanctions if they refuse to identify their sources to prosecutors, grand juries, and attorneys representing civil litigants. Most recently reporters from the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Time magazine, among others, have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury identifying the leak of the identity of a CIA agent. The CIA leak case led to the indictment of I. Lewis Libby, the vice-president's former chief of staff. Libby's lawyers recently asked a federal judge to compel prosecutors to turn over all information the prosecution has from journalists. In all likelihood the New York Times reporters who broke the National Security Agency's use of warrantless wiretapping of American citizens will soon be called to testify. If reporters refuse, they face contempt charges and jail time.

Judges have issued contempt findings against reporters in a civil case brought by Wen Ho Lee, a nuclear physicist who has sued the government for disclosing his name during an espionage investigation. An appeals court has upheld the judgment, now on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The panel will address such questions as: Do journalists need more protection from prosecution? Should they be required to talk to a grand jury? At what price? Should a federal shield law be enacted?

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