Lawyers for the man charged with killing 12 people in a Colorado movie theater have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to compel a Fox News reporter to identify her sources for a story about the defendant.
The attorneys said Monday they asked the justices to review a New York state court ruling that Colorado cannot force New York-based reporter Jana Winter to reveal who told her that Holmes sent his psychiatrist a notebook containing violent images before the July 2012 attack (See Petition).
Holmes’ lawyers say whoever spoke to Winter violated a gag order and should be punished. New York state’s top court ruled in December that Winter did not have to testify in Colorado because she is protected by her home state’s shield law, which says reporters do not have to identify confidential sources (NYLJ, Dec. 11, 2013).
A Colorado court issued a subpoena for Winter’s testimony pursuant to the Uniform Act to Secure the Attendance of Witnesses from Without the State in Criminal Proceedings. But because Winter is based in New York, that state’s courts would have to enforce it.
Among the petition’s legal questions, one was whether a signatory of the Uniform Act could “exempt a class of witnesses from being subpoenaed to a sister state?”
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple counts of murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Daniel Arshack of Arshack, Hajek & Lehrman, counsel of record on the petition, said it “provides the Supreme Court with a timely opportunity to establish that there is simply no Constitutional exemption for journalists to respond, like all citizens, to a validly issued subpoena.”
Roselvin Sanchez of Arshack Hajek, Herald Price Fahringer of Fahringer & Dubno and Richard Willstatter of Green & Willstatter also appear on the petition, solely representing Holmes on the subpoena compliance matter while Colorado public defenders will serve as Holmes’ defense in the upcoming trial.
Winter, her attorney and Fox News didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.