Barry Pollack Comments on House-Approved Legislation for Reporter's Privilege in U.S. News & World Report

"House Passes Reporter's Privilege, But What Does It Mean?"
U.S. News & World Report
06.04.15Barry Pollack commented on the House of Representatives' recently approved legislation intended to block federal prosecutors from forcing journalists to testify about their work. Some lawyers believe that the proposed legislation would provide protection to journalists who must maintain confidentiality in order to do their jobs. However, others -- including Pollack -- disagree. According to Pollack, the amendment may in some cases extend no protection to journalists, and judges would still have to rule on motions to quash subpoenas, even if federal prosecutors are prevented from filing a reply. "I wouldn't say it offers no real-world protection. It offers limited and imperfect protection," he said. "It would constrain what the Department of Justice could do. Anyone has a better chance if the opponent has one arm tied behind its back. But it is the referee, not the opponent, who makes the decision." Federal law does not currently recognize a reporter's privilege to protect confidential sources, he added, meaning judges could still compel reporter testimony with the threat of jail time for refusal. "Unless the law changes, judges may continue to rule against journalists, even without the Department of Justice openly advocating for that result," he said.
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