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. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  2. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

  3. This outbreak illustrates the absurdity of the extreme positions taken by today's liberalism, specifically individualism and the modern cult of endless personal "freedom." Ebola reminds us that at some point the person's own "freedom" to do this and that comes into contact with the needs of the common good and "freedom" must be curtailed. This is not rocket science, except, today there is nonstop propaganda elevating individual preferences over the common good, so some pundits have a hard time fathoming the obvious necessity of quarantine in some situations....or even NATIONAL BORDERS...propagandists have also amazingly used this as another chance to accuse Western nations of "racism" which is preposterous and offensive. So one the one hand the idolatry of individualism has to stop and on the other hand facts people don't like that intersect with race-- remain facts nonetheless. People who respond to facts over propaganda do better in the long run. We call it Truth. Sometimes it seems hard to find.

  4. It would be hard not to feel the Kramers' anguish. But Catholic Charities, by definition, performed due diligence and held to the statutory standard of care. No good can come from punishing them for doing their duty. Should Indiana wish to change its laws regarding adoption agreements and or putative fathers, the place for that is the legislature and can only apply to future cases. We do not apply new laws to past actions, as the Kramers seem intent on doing, to no helpful end.

  5. I am saddened to hear about the loss of Zeff Weiss. He was an outstanding member of the Indianapolis legal community. My thoughts are with his family.

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