Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dodge City reporter ignores subpoena to testify, loses support of newspaper

A Kansas reporter, subpoenaed to testify about a confidential source, has been held in contempt for not appearing in court Wednesday. Clair O'Brien of the Dodge City Daily Globe will be fined $1,000 per day until she appears in court, James Carlson of The Topeka Capital-Journal reports. O'Brien told Carlson that attorneys for GateHouse Media, which owns the Globe, wouldn't pay for her legal representation unless she answered the prosecutor's questions under oath, and have disrupted her attempts to seek help from a national journalism group. The newspaper and O'Brien had tried and failed to get the subpoena quashed.

GateHouse told Carlson it hadn't decided whether to provide legal counsel for O'Brien to continue fighting the subpoena and denies it has blocked her from seeking outside counsel. The company did have an attorney in court Wednesday, but told Carlson that O'Brien has "taken steps to separate herself from the company, including firing her personal attorney paid for by GateHouse." (Read our previous reports on the subject here and here)

"What she did was really stick a thumb in the judge's eye today," Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, who has been speaking with O'Brien for more than a week, told Carlson. "Even if you're not going to answer questions, you still have to go to court." An editor with the Globe and the Kansas Press Association also expressed disapproval. "I feel like I'm being battered by forces more powerful than I," O'Brien told Carlson. "I don't feel that I have the right to make my own choices." (Read more)

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