Defending the Right to Report In Court

Feb. 23, 2018 – The Guild joined free press organizations in submitting friend-of-the-court briefs in several important cases, including one involving a Guild member.

No Notes, No Testimony

A brief in the case of New York Times reporter Frances Robles supported her effort to quash a subpoena for her testimony and notes from a jailhouse interview with Conrado Juarez, who was on trial for the 1991 murder of “Baby Hope.” Robles is a member of The NewsGuild of New York.

Journalists must be able to establish trust with their sources and protect material they gather in the course of reporting, the groups argued. “Forcing them to testify or produce notes threatens their ability to bring important and newsworthy information to light,” the brief says.

National Security Letter

The NewsGuild-CWA joined the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and other organizations in filing a friend-of-the-court brief challenging the constitutionality of the national security letter (NSL) statute, which grants the FBI the power to demand customer records from electronic communication service providers and prohibits providers from disclosing the demand to customers. Press freedom groups believe the statute could jeopardize the confidentiality of reporters’ sources.

No Retaliation

The Guild joined the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 22 media organizations in submitting a brief to the Ninth Circuit Court in support of former journalist Brian Addison, who alleges that Baker City, Ore., and its police chief retaliated against him after he wrote a column critical of the police department.

The brief argues that First Amendment retaliation claims are critical to journalists, who are at risk of retaliation by government officials because their reporting may be critical of them.