Times, Post Reporters Subpoenaed

An interesting sidebar in the murder trial of Nixzmary Brown‘s parents: The District Attorney’s office is attempting to subpoena testimony from two reporters for the Times and the Post. Corey Kilgannon (Times) and Douglas Montero (Post) are both being called to the stand:

At a pretrial hearing yesterday, prosecutors argued that the reporters could provide the only unbiased testimony available to convict the parents. Without the testimony, “we would have no case against these defendants,” said an assistant district attorney, Jane S. Meyers. “It is hard for me to even imagine something that’s as important to our case as these reporters’ testimony,” she added.

Lawyers for both newspapers are fighting the subpoenas in court, citing New York State’s shield law. But the question is — will the reporters ultimately testify in court? State shield law does not apply to published material and the Brown case is one with clear cut villains; any potential testimony would not be the crisis for either the Times or the Post that it would otherwise be. It ultimately comes down to how aggressively the DA’s office will go after the papers and how good their (formidable) lawyers are.

Times VP and assistant general counsel George Freeman argues that the shield law exempts reporters from subpoenas under certain circumstances and that it would erode reporters’ credibility to testify. Meanwhile, Post lawyer Slade R. Metcalf, in addition to citing the shield law, also argues that prosecutors are failing to show they have alternative sources for testimony.