NEW YORK – Lawyers for a Fox News reporter who is being asked to name her sources for a story on last year's Colorado theater shooting urged a New York appeals court Wednesday to quash a subpoena that requires her to appear at a hearing in the state.
The lawyers for New York City-based reporter Jana Winter made the arguments in New York state's Appellate Division in Manhattan, saying the state's shield laws protect journalists' sources. An attorney for theater shooting suspect James Holmes said that the issue wasn't about press freedoms, but about the legal process, and that the subpoena requiring her to appear should be upheld.
Winter was subpoenaed in connection with a Colorado hearing about a leak concerning a notebook Holmes mailed to a psychiatrist before the attack at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in July. Media reports have said the notebook contains drawings depicting violence. Winter reported on the notebook, citing law-enforcement sources who were unnamed.
Twelve people were killed and 70 were injured in the attack. Holmes faces more than 160 counts of murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Holmes' attorneys say the leak was a violation of a gag order and want the sources identified.
On Wednesday, Holmes attorney Daniel Arshack argued to the five-judge panel that the issue was one of credibility. He said that a number of law enforcement officers had been asked whether they were the source of the leak, and that none had taken responsibility for it.
"Nobody knows except for Ms. Winter who that officer was," he said.
Christopher Handman, representing Winter, said allowing the subpoena to stand would take the power out of the state's shield laws if she were forced to identify her sources.
The panel of judges questioned both attorneys, asking whether the issue was over press freedoms or one of court process, as well as whether New York's public policy of protecting press freedoms had any place in the trial.