Evidence submitted in the trial of Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes affirmed an exclusive report by FoxNews.com that ultimately led to a two-year court fight over reporters’ rights–with former FoxNews.com reporter Jana Winter threatened with jail time for refusing to reveal her sources.
“The revelations in court demonstrate without a doubt that my reporting on the contents of James Holmes’ notebook was completely accurate,” said Winter after the notebook–the existence of which was Winter’s scoop just days after the 2012 theater attack–was read in court.
As Fox News reports, Winter, citing confidential sources, reported that the notebook was in a package found, undelivered, in the mailroom at the University of Colorado Anschutz medical campus after the shooting. Its intended recipient was Dr. Lynne Fenton, a professor and psychiatrist who had previously treated Holmes:
Winter steadfastly refused to reveal her sources. Doing so, she and Fox News attorneys reasoned, would violate their trust and chill the ability of her and the entire Fourth Estate to gather information. Free speech advocates and journalism institutions applauded the stance, but a New York judge, whose approval was required to allow a subpoena to be served, agreed with his Colorado counterpart. An appeals court upheld that decision.
Fox News attorneys appealed the case to the Empire State’s Court of Appeals, which said Winter was protected by New York’s shield law, Colorado’s weaker version notwithstanding. Holmes’ attorneys took the case to the nation’s highest court, which on May 27, 2014, refused to hear it, leaving in place the New York court’s ruling and ending Winter’s legal nightmare.