Jana Winter, FOX News reporter, may go to jail for refusing to reveal her source
On July 25th, Jana Winter revealed to FOX News of the existence of a notebook James Holmes sent to his psychiatrist days before the horrific Aurora massacre. The shooting at the midnight showing of the final installment in the Batman trilogy left 12 people dead and 58 physically injured. Holmes’ attorneys are now suing Winter because they believe her source broke a gag order. They claim the leaked evidence damaged the accused to a fair trial. Winter refuses to reveal her source citing her first amendment rights.
Holmes’ lawyers believe heightened due process is applicable in this trial because of the trial publicity and that the death penalty is sought by the prosecution team. They believe that Jana had no right to be an arbiter to that information to the general public.
Jana however will not back down. According to an affidavit she states:
“If I am forced to reveal the identities of persons whom I have promised to shield from public exposure, simply put, I will be unable to function effectively in my profession, and my career will be over.”
In addition to standing firm on principle, Winter is aided by Colorado’s Shield Law. The law prevents journalists from being forced to divulge their sources.
Forbes.com reports that the law isn’t iron-clad.
“The problem is that the reporter’s right is not absolute in Colorado as there is a three-pronged test that allows a judge to blow past the Shield Law and force a reporter to give the court what it wants.
Should the court determine that the reporter’s information is directly relevant to a substantial element in the case; that the information cannot be obtained by any other reasonable means; and that the interests of the party seeking disclosure (in this case Mr. Holmes) outweighs the First Amendment rights of the reporter, along with the public’s right to receive the news, the court can ignore the Shield Law and force the reporter to provide all requested information.”
If a judge rules that Winter must divulge her source, Jana could face up to 6 months in jail if she doesn’t comply.
I’m dumbfounded by the lack of coverage on this case. For some reason the media is more captivated by the Jodi Arias trial than actual news story. I don’t think she should have to reveal her source. I think it is pretty ludicrous that she could go to jail for more than 6 months, even though a crime wasn’t committed. I also agree that if she were to reveal her source she would potentially ruin her career. Is the court willing to compensate her for the rest of her life if she can’t get a job after this trial?
What do you think?
How has the mainstream media covered this story? Had you heard about this case before reading it today?
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate