Federal judge orders reporters to reveal source of Bonds leak

[JURIST] A federal district court judge on Tuesday ordered San Francisco Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada [SF Chronicle profiles] to reveal the source of leaked grand jury testimony they used as background for newspaper reports and a book the two wrote about Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds and the steroid controversy involving the now-defunct BALCO corporation. A separate grand jury has been convened to uncover the source of the leaked testimony transcripts, and as federal prosecutors have investigated the lawyers, government officials, and defendants who had access to the transcripts, prosecutors say Williams and Fainaru-Wada are the only remaining individuals who have knowledge of the source. In the order [PDF text] denying Williams and Fainaru-Wadas' motion to quash the subpoenas, US District Judge Jeffrey White cited the 1972 Supreme Court case Branzburg v. Hayes [text] for the proposition that no one may refuse to testify before a federal grand jury.

In June, Williams and Fainaru-Wada submitted a motion to quash the subpoenas [PDF text], arguing that the First Amendment protects the rights of journalists to protect their sources. Similar arguments made by New York Times reporter Judith Miller were struck down [JURIST report] in May by a federal judge who ruled that "the First Amendment does not protect news reporters or news organizations from producing documents when the news reporters are themselves critical to both the indictment and prosecution of criminal activity." AP has more. The San Francisco Chronicle has ongoing coverage of the BALCO investigation.



 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.