Friday, May 19, 2006

If the name sounds good, it must be bad

Senate bill S4802The Free FLow of Information Act addresses two additional areas of considerable confusion and concern. First, it addresses the situation of a criminal defendant who subpoenas a journalist. To ensure that every criminal defendant has a fair trial, a criminal defendant has less of a burden than a prosecutor does, to show that the journalist's privilege should be waived. This is consistent with our long standing belief as a nation that a criminal defendant must be given ample opportunity to defend himself.
Second, it addresses private civil litigation. This bill provides that before a private party may subpoena a journalist in a civil suit, the court must find that the party is not trying to harass or punish the journalist,
and that the public interest requires disclosure. Again, this should help clarify the existing law in federal courts.
Finally, the Free Flow of Information Act adds layers of safeguards for the public. Reporters are not allowed to withhold information if a federal court concludes that the information is important to the defense of our Nation's security or is needed to prevent or stop a crime that could lead to death or physical injury. Also, the bill ensures that both crime victims and criminal defendants will have a fair hearing in court. Under this bill, a journalist who is an eyewitness to a crime or takes part in a crime may not withhold that information. Journalists should not be permitted to hide from the law by writing a story and then claiming a reporter's privilege. "

No comments: