Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Judge Blocks DOJ's Attempt to Obtain Phone Records from New York Times

Judge Robert Sweet has refused to dismiss a 2004 lawsuit that the New York Times filed against the U. S. Department of Justice to prevent DOJ from obtaining records of phone calls placed between two of its reporters, Judith Miller and Philip Shenon, and some of their sources after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Judge Sweet cited his concerns that government secrecy seems to be rising. He also pointed out that the government failed to meet the relevant test--that the information it seeks is not only relevant to its case but is also material and is not obtainable through another route. He also likened the phone records to testimony by the reporters. Read the judge's lengthy ruling.

One of the reporters named, Judith Miller, is one of the journalists involved in the Valerie Plame Wilson case. According to an article in today's Times, Floyd Abrams, attorney for the paper in both cases, plans to use Judge Sweet's decision in the request for a rehearing before the full court in the Miller/Cooper case. Meanwhile, DOJ's Patrick Fitzgerald, unhappy with today's ruling, is considering an appeal.

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