Journalist Continues to Fight Courts to Protect Her Sources

By:  Raven Clabough
Journalist Continues to Fight Courts to Protect Her Sources

The New York State Court of Appeals in Albany will begin hearing arguments next week in a bid by a Fox News journalist to squash a subpoena that would require her to ultimately reveal her sources behind a report she did on Aurora, Colorado, gunman James Holmes. 

On July 20, 2012, James Holmes opened fire on unsuspecting patrons in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 and injuring 70. Fox News sent Jana Winter to cover the aftermath. Just five days later, Winter broke her exclusive story that Holmes had forwarded a notebook to a University of Colorado psychiatrist “filled with details about how he was going to kill people.” Her story was based on information she had received from law-enforcement sources who were not to discuss the case because of a gag order issued by County Judge William Sylvester.

Jana Winter is so committed to keeping secret the identity of her sources of information in the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shootings that she is willing to face jail time rather than expose the unnamed persons. Though both a Colorado judge and a New York judge have ordered her to turn over her notes related to the killings — that likely contain the names of her law-enforcement sources — Winter has so far refused.

Her fight to protect her rights continues. Jana Winter will be asking the New York court to determine that New York’s strong policy of protecting the identity of confidential sources should also protect her from having to testify in Colorado, where she could be ordered to reveal her sources.

Fox News explains, “New York’s shield law, among the strongest in the nation, bars the jailing of journalists for refusing to identify their sources.”

Colorado too has a shield law, but one that is not nearly as protective as New York’s. Though Colorado’s Shield Law is supposed to protect any reporter from having to reveal a source, it does include provisions that allow a judge to circumvent it and compel a reporter to provide the ordered information to the court. Forbes explained:

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