Journalists continue to face demands for newsgathering material and news sources, as several unusual incidents in recent months show.
A California editor was jailed for five days for refusing to name his source, subpoenas for five years of materials from 159 news organization were severely limited in Oklahoma, and a journalism professor faces contempt charges after being subpoenaed for his notes - by a group of journalists.
JOURNALIST RELEASED FROM JAIL AFTER SERVING FIVE-DAY SENTENCE
Sacramento Valley Mirror editor and publisher Tim Crews was released from jail on March 1 after serving a five-day sentence for refusing to reveal his confidential source in a story involving the sale of an allegedly stolen firearm by a state patrol officer. He told the Associated Press that he was ready to return to jail if the court again demands that he reveal his source.
"I am still resolute. If we must go to jail again, then we must, in a heartbeat," he said.
But the charge against the officer was withdrawn in late April, and Crews' subpoena was subsequently withdrawn.
Superior Court Judge Noel Watkins in Sacramento originally ordered Crews to be held in contempt and to report to jail on Feb. 7, but then stayed the enforcement of his order until Feb. 24 to allow the California Supreme Court time to review Crews' case. After the state Supreme Court decided to let the sentence stand, Crews filed a habeas corpus petition in federal District Court in Sacramento, but the judge denied the petition on Feb. 25. Crews immediately appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco (9th Cir.), but the federal appellate court did not stay the decision, and Crews reported to the Tehama County Jail on Feb. 26.
Crews refused to reveal his source for a story relating to a theft charge against California Highway Patrol officer Dewey Anderson. Anderson has pleaded not guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges relating to an allegedly stolen firearm. Anderson said he needed Crews' testimony about his earlier story to establish that authorities knew about the allegations years ago, which would mean that the statute of limitations prevented prosecution.
Crews reported in the twice-weekly Valley Mirror that he was informed by officers that Anderson had stolen a handgun and that he was read portions of a written report concerning Anderson. The trial court found that the need of Anderson's defense attorneys to know the identity of Crews' sources outweighed Crews' protection under California's shield law.
Several media outlets, including The Copley Press, Inc., The Hearst Corp., Knight Ridder Inc., the Los Angeles Times, The McClatchy Co., The Orange County Register, The (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat, Santa Barbara News-Press, The Press-Enterprise Co., California Newspaper Publishers Association, the California First Amendment Coalition and the Society of Professional Journalists, filed a friend-ofthe-court brief with the federal appellate court.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a letter in support of Crews' petition before the state Supreme Court.
Crews told the AP that his five-day stint in Tehama County Jail "wasn't pleasant, but it wasn't terrible." He said he spent the time in a minimum security barracks with a few dozen other individuals being held for drug offenses, drunken driving or misdemeanor thefts.
"I got some good interviews out of it," he said. "The last night, I had a long discussion about Greek mythology with a guy in jail for firewood theft, a great guy."
The AP reported that the San Francisco Bay Guardian sent two reporters at its own expense to put out Crews' 12-page Tuesday newspaper, while friends and volunteers helped staff the office and get papers delivered. …