The Center for Individual Freedom has filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court in support of Vanessa Leggetts petition asking the Court to hear her case.
Vanessa Leggett is the Houston, Texas, writer and teacher jailed for 168 days for refusing to reveal confidential sources and information regarding a notorious murder case to federal prosecutors. That refusal followed an attempt by the FBI to convert Leggett, who is writing a book on the case, into a paid undercover government informant.
The Centers brief argues the public interest necessity for qualified testimonial privilege for journalists. It also stresses the acute need for Supreme Court review to establish clear guidance to lower federal courts, which are widely split on the issue as a result of the Supreme Courts l972 plurality decision in Branzburg v. Hayes.
As written in the Centers brief, "Our ability to govern ourselves is threatened every time a party, prosecutor, or grand jury merely fishing for information compels a news gatherer to reveal a confidential source or other unpublished information. A clearly articulated, universally applied, qualified news gatherers privilege is the strongest shield against this threat. The Court should take the opportunity presented by this case to definitively recognize such a privilege and thus ensure the publics right to know."
To read the Centers brief, click here. To read the Leggett petition, click here.
The Center has written extensively on the Leggett case (click here) and has contributed to her legal defense fund.January 26, 2002
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