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Newspaper appeals order that reporter must testify

By The Associated Press
12.14.05

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — A daily newspaper in New York's Hudson Valley is challenging a Dutchess County Court judge's order that one of its reporters testify before a grand jury.

The Poughkeepsie Journal, in arguments filed with the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, maintains reporter Dan Shapley is protected from providing testimony by both the state's shield law and constitution.

Judge Thomas J. Dolan ruled Dec. 5 that Shapley must answer questions about a Nov. 5 interview he conducted with a candidate for Poughkeepsie town highway superintendent.

The grand jury is investigating how the candidate, Candis Saint Angel and his son, Richard — who was a candidate for town supervisor — gathered signatures for their nominating petitions.

"New York's Constitution was not designed to make reporters agents of the government, trial lawyers or to create a direct pipeline to grand juries," Journal lawyers argued in the appeal.

"To the extent the independence of reporters is compromised, the likelihood increases sources of information will either be less forthcoming or will simply dry up. Information lost to the press will be lost to the public."

But Dutchess County District Attorney William Grady told the Journal the contents of Shapley's interview "do not constitute privileged information and should be available to the grand jury."


Related

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American Bar Association rejected supporting shield law 30 years ago, but reconsidered idea after jailing of New York Times reporter. 08.11.05

State shield statutes & leading cases
By Bill Kenworthy State-by-state compilation of journalist-shield statutes, cases. 10.17.05

Journalists in jail: bad news for a democracy
By Paul K. McMasters Unlike China and Cuba, we have a Constitution that protects journalists from being jailed — except when we find ways around it. 09.25.05

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