The California Supreme Court seemed inclined Wednesday to shield a Sacramento television station from prosecutors who are demanding an unedited copy of a murder suspect’s videotaped confession. At stake in the case is a reporter’s statutory right to gather news without becoming entangled in government prosecutions. “It appears that the people did not intend to limit the immunity of the press,” said Justice Joyce Kennard.

The California Legislature first established media immunity in 1935 and expanded the protectionsin 1972 and 1980. But courts have occasionally pierced the shield when they believed a reporter’s information might exculpate a criminal defendant. For example, after a reporter witnessed an alleged illegal police search, the California Supreme Courtin Delaney v. Superior Court, 50 Cal.3d 785 (1990), said the defendant’s right to a fair trial outweighed the reporter’s privilege.

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