Inky Reporters Subpoenaed by Grand Jury
Looks like we’re about to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
We noted last week that when the Inquirer reported that a grand jury had recommended charges against Attorney General Kathleen Kane for leaking information from an earlier grand jury case, the paper itself relied on information leaked from a grand jury. Kane’s attorney, Lanny Davis, made the same point.
So it’s probably inevitable that Inky reporters Craig R. McCoy and Angela Couloumbis have now been subpoenaed to appear before a statewide grand jury investigating who leaked that story to them.
The Inquirer, however, says it will protect its sources.
The newspaper’s editor said the reporters would invoke the state Shield Law, which offers legal protection against the compelled identification of confidential sources.
“The confidential sources who provided guidance to The Inquirer in these stories about public officials in their official duties are precisely those whom the Pennsylvania Shield Law was designed to protect from disclosure,” Inquirer Editor William K. Marimow said Monday.
The Pennsylvania News Media Association explains the shield law:
No person engaged in, connected with, or employed by any newspaper of general circulation or any press association or any radio or television station, or any magazine of general circulation, for the purpose of gathering, procuring, compiling, editing or publishing news, shall be required to disclose the source of any information procured or obtained by such person, in any legal proceeding, trial or investigation before any government unit. Note: This statute also applies to radio and television stations as long as they maintain and keep recordings or transcripts of the actual broadcast or telecast available for inspection.
The American Society of Newspaper Editors says: “Pennsylvania’s “shield” law is among the nation’s best. It provides journalists with a valuable tool with which to inform the public about its government. The law enables reporters to use anonymous sources, which is rare, and to gain access to government information without revealing its sources in court.”
The grand jury is meeting at Norristown.