Journalistic shielding

July 18, 2008
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Both of Indiana’s senators are pushing for passage of a federal shield law. Sen. Dick Lugar, a Republican, talked this week about making that happen soon and as recently as last week Senate leadership noted this may come up yet in July. Legislation out there, known as the Free Flow of Information Act (S. 2035) would create a reporter’s privilege at the federal level, bringing that U.S. law into line with statutes in most states.

Attorneys general in about 42 states signed a letter supporting the proposal, though Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter wasn’t one of them. He opted instead to do his own letter to Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, a Democrat, urging the federal law’s passage, noting that his position is statutorily created and not constitutionally established and his authority doesn’t extend to what the federal legislation would encompass. Our AG notes that the proposed federal shield law “does not add to, or subtract from, the Indiana law.”

Hoosier State Press Association general counsel Stephen Key sees significant benefit for Indiana from the proposed federal shield law, though. The current state shield law can be found at Indiana Code 34-46-4; it protects news reporters from disclosing sources and giving them a means of safety in state courts. But Key notes that federal law doesn’t pony up that protection, and the 7th Circuit has gone as far as saying it won’t recognize state statutes that offer the journalistic shield.

Key says passing this legislation would give those within Indiana’s press “better piece of mind in promises of confidentiality to sources” that will hold up in court. All courts at federal and state levels. Timing remains a question, even though the Senate has vowed to move forward soon. President George W. Bush has apparently threatened to veto the legislation, but presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama have both pledged their support. We'll see what happens.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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