Freedom of Speech Victory: Aurora Shooting Reporter Does Not Have to Reveal Her Sources

Lily Dane
Activist Post

Jana Winter is the Fox News reporter who revealed that accused Aurora shooter James Holmes sent a notebook describing his violent plans to his psychiatrist.

Lawyers for Holmes wanted Winter, who is based out of New York, brought to Colorado to name two law officers who told her Holmes had mailed the notebook to his doctor. They argued that her sources violated a judge’s gag order.

Back in November, Judge Andrew Napolitano said Winter faced jail time for refusing to reveal her sources:

Jana, on the other hand, is holding up the Colorado Shield Law, which says that you have a right to sources and you don’t have to reveal your sources, unless the people who want to know who the sources are can’t find them by any other means. The problem is that those ‘means’ include putting someone — in this case, Jana Winter — in jail.

Winter lives and works in New York, where reporters are offered protection from revealing sources and cannot be placed in jail for refusing to do so.

Today the New York Court of Appeals ruled 4-3 that Winter is protected under New York law, and that the state’s shield law protects her from the Colorado court’s petition for a subpoena:

There is a substantial likelihood that a New York reporter will be compelled to divulge the identity of a confidential source (or face a contempt sanction) if required to appear in the other jurisdiction—a result that would offend the core protections of the shield law, a New York public policy of the highest order.

Napolitano explained the significance of the court’s decision on Fox News:

Napolitano said the New York Court of Appeals’ ruling “has firmly established the public policy of the state of New York as the most pro-First Amendment, pro-freedom of speech policy in the United States of America.” 

“The state of New York basically said to Jana Winter and to all of our colleagues in the journalism industry, ‘You can disregard a subpoena from a judge of another state if you are a New York journalist because the New York law will protect you,’” he said.

Dori Hanswirth, Winter’s attorney, was pleased with the ruling:

We are absolutely thrilled and delighted that New York state’s highest court has once again reaffirmed how important the protection of confidential sources is to the proper functioning of our society.

Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”

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