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Reporter ordered to reveal sources in court for Aurora defense team.

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posted on Mar, 20 2013 @ 02:15 AM
This story is a hard one to place for forum. Please move as needed for best fit, if this isn't.

Well, the Aurora, Colorado shooting hasn't been in the news here for awhile. This story comes on multiple levels though and with importance across multiple issues.

* It involves the notebook that was sent to the psychiatrist prior to the shooting with depictions of something of that nature. That is one element.

* It involves cops who took that notebook into evidence before it became known to the public and where it had been sitting under Gag order and seal when that leak happened.

* It involves the Defense team of the Shooter and so, by extension, brings in all kinds of other things with it.

I'm writing this thread to really focus on just one aspect though. It's not the shooter, the crime, that night or even the psychiatrist or police. It's the fact a reporter is being subpoenaed to face an order for revealing sources on a story.

At his arraignment last week in Arapahoe County Court, defense attorney Daniel King revealed that a New York judge had signed a proposed subpoena for Fox News reporter Jana Winter to testify at the Colorado trial.
Days after the massacre, Winter wrote an exclusive that said Holmes had sent his University of Colorado psychiatrist a notebook containing images of "gun-wielding stick figures blowing away other stick figures" and "details about how he was going to kill people."
Though Winter did not identify the recipient of that notebook, a lawsuit filed by the widow of Jonathan Blunk, who died in the shooting, claims that psychiatrist Lynne Fenton failed to act after Holmes told her that "he fantasized about killing a lot of people."

It's my strong belief that however seldom the press may use it well these days, the Rights of a free press are critical to freedom. A free press cannot well function if the people to whom reporters need to get information from know they may become agents of the State or Courts, retroactively, as this case would be doing.

Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester approved the subpoena request, saying: "The potential violation of this court's orders is a serious issue. The information about the package contents has received significant public attention that has implicated defendant's constitutional rights to a fair trial, to a fair and impartial jury, and to due process as protected by the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments."
He warned that any sources that lied under oath could face felony charges.

I have absolutely no problem with the Judge hunting for the leakers ...and more power to him if he can find them. I don't really take a side either way on whether the cops who leaked it to her were right or wrong. I have no clue as to their personal motivations, obviously, as no one even knows who they are. However, there are ways the system ought to allow this and then ..well, there are the ways of an overbearing state, IMO.

If this statement is accurate, then due to the fact that all who had access to the package denied under oath that they spoke to her or knew anyone who spoke to her, perjury in the first degree may be implicated under CRS 18-8-502. Under Colorado law, this is a class four felony. If her assertion is inaccurate, then substantial resources will have been unnecessarily expended pursuing this issue."

I'm really curious on this issue, what does everyone think about it? The fundamental question and conflict here is a basic one, albeit with potentially huge ramifications as a precedent to be set.

Are the Rights of the Free Press or the Rights of the defendant to his individual free trial (As his Defense team sees it) more important? Which takes priority when both, in theory are Constitutional Rights and values near, dear and core to our Nation? Is there some other factor to choose which comes before the other?

These are interesting times with interesting happenings coming daily.

posted on Mar, 20 2013 @ 02:29 AM
Tough question, but seeing that the media was given the information illegally, I'll side with the Judge to get that information from the reporter.

I'll side with the defense over the free press, the information will come out during the trial.
Looked what happened to the poor security guard accused of bombing the Olympics in Atlanta.
edit on 3/20/2013 by mugger because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 20 2013 @ 02:41 AM
reply to post by mugger

Despite the long term damage that does in precedent for the violation of confidence and work product of journalists? Isn't that a dangerous thing when it's effects may well be felt for decades? (Thinks about the precedents quoted as basis for almost everything done today ... and how far back in time some of those originate).

I'd also note something which isn't really secondary here. At least not for some. There are more than a few people here on ATS who could well come under citizen journalist categories for things posted as news in the public forum. Depends on the state as I understand that recognition being extended? Anyway... It's not necessarily a far off precedent which could never impact anyone here. It's part of why I thought I'd share it.

posted on Mar, 20 2013 @ 04:13 AM
reply to post by Wrabbit2000

I agree with you there. This could set a very bad precedent. This would be an infringement on the Freedom of the Press. I don't think it's legal to force a journalist to reveal their source, unless it pertains to National Security. Otherwise, we would see WAY more of this kind of thing. It will probably be challenged separately in Federal Court on its Constitutionality, as long as the Journalist in question remains steadfast and doesn't reveal the source.

posted on Mar, 20 2013 @ 07:34 AM
Wrabbit, you are the only person who resembles a journalist whom I actually trust.

I would make the decision based on the factuality of the information leaked. If the leaked info is accurate, then side with the reporter. If it is inaccurate or false, then side with the defense and force the revelation of the source.

Much as it would please me to start subpoenaing every reporter who ever cited an unnamed source, and pinning fraud convictions on countless paid liars...

posted on Mar, 20 2013 @ 10:28 AM

Originally posted by heyitsok
I would make the decision based on the factuality of the information leaked. If the leaked info is accurate, then side with the reporter. If it is inaccurate or false, then side with the defense and force the revelation of the source.

That is an interesting way of looking at the problem and splitting the solution. I must admit, I approach this from the position that the reporter has been accurate to reporting about this notebook, which she should never have had any way to know or hear anything about. It makes sense that, given how worked up the Judge and others are over it, it all must have started from the reports hitting the mark.

Of course I noticed the comment among my quoted material regarding the uncertainty, but it was added as almost an afterthought for level of importance in the rest of the an obligatory 'we gotta throw in the "just in case" language'.

If that uncertainty is more than just sentiments thrown in for CYA reasons, then I have to agree with you. If the reports are NOT accurate, but close enough to know a leak happened with bad info or she made things up as she went along, after getting a little off a leak? I suppose I'd have to say that does throw things into a different light.

posted on Mar, 20 2013 @ 11:15 AM
Funny how the article fails to mention that the journalist in fact also violated the gag order and should be subject to punishment as well as the 2 law enforcement officials. It is one thing to post highly accusatory information as many reporters do often. It is totally another thing to post that information in violation of a court order. They are all going to be held in criminal contempt........good luck with that........

posted on Mar, 20 2013 @ 08:55 PM
reply to post by SMOKINGGUN2012

Well, it's true enough that the reporter violated a gag order. So...charge her with it and on that? Good luck on it. It's like charging Julian Assange with Treason. He didn't do a thing but receive what someone else broke federal laws to get. Technically. Assange is guilty too...but is he? Technically the man who put out the Pentagon Papers should have roasted for years in a federal prison too. Ellsberg didn't though and nor did Assange.

Traditionally in the United States, the legal side bends over backwards and then some...and for very good respect and support the Free Press as protected by our #1 Constitutional Right.

In this case, though...Charging the reporter with violation of a court gag isn't the issue anyway.It has nothing to do with it. It's putting the press into a position to violate sources for news reporting. Again, it's literally making them agents of the Police and State retroactively.

If she's forced to testify and burn the sources then, in every sense, she WAS a direct agent of the Court and Government when she accepted that material from sources who trusted she would protect their anonymity.

Agree or don't agree....but if this carries and holds? Good luck on seeing much of anything in news again where it would have required a source that..for ANY reason...wants their identity kept out of it. A high profile case like this insures that everyone knows, leaking not only destroys the man who leaked it but destroys the ones who took it too. It's ONE way to shut down leaks....but it's as Unconstitutional a way, in spirit, as it comes, IMO.

edit on 20-3-2013 by Wrabbit2000 because: (no reason given)

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