Editorial: Federal court should protect reporter
Lawyers for former Springfield police Lt. Rickey Davis believe the city of Springfield intentionally leaked personal information about Davis to Illinois Times reporter Dusty Rhodes to humiliate their client.
They want a federal judge to force Rhodes to testify under oath and name her source for a 2006 story that said Davis had applied for a duty-related disability pension due to depression.
Rhodes would be protected in state court by a state shield law that protects journalists from having to reveal confidential sources. Federal courts don’t provide such protection, but we believe the judge in this case should by quashing Rhodes’ subpoena.
Trust between confidential sources and journalists is the foundation of investigative journalism. Allowing a reporter to be co-opted by attorneys in a civil suit — or, for that matter, by law enforcement or any other interest — compromises that foundation and, as Rhodes correctly asserts, impairs that reporter’s ability to work effectively in the future. It also sets a terrible precedent that resounds far beyond one courtroom.
We hope U.S. District Judge Jeanne Scott shares our opinion.