The Holmes trial already has been wrought with emotion and drama, and now there’s a new twist – a FoxNews.com reporter has been brought to court today in an effort to compel her to name her sources. Jana Winter is set to face contempt of court charges and possible jail time if she refuses to reveal the source that leaked information to her about a notebook that Colorado mass murder James Holmes sent to his psychiatrist.
The judge who summoned Winter, Judge Sylvester, is setting a dangerous precedent, according to First Amendment advocates that Fox News interviewed. Senior Vice President and Executive Director at Washington D.C.’s First Amendment Center, Gene Policinski, told the media outlet:
“This is the classic reason to have shield laws. There must be protection for journalists to be free to report what they know, because that is how the public takes measure independently of how the courts operate.”
The issue at hand is whether the unnamed source, a law enforcement agent, violated the gag order put in place following the July 20th incident in conveying these details to Winter. Holmes’ defense team had requested the inquiry complaining that Winter’s story has impeded their client’s ability to receive a fair trial.
According to today’s hearing:
“But Winter’s lawyer contends the defense did not exhaustively question all officials who could have been the source of the leak. The judge in the case also raised the possibility that Winter’s source was from outside Colorado, and not subject to the gag order.”
This is similar to the situation in which New York Times reporter Judith Miller spent 85 days in jail in order to protect her sources.
The District Attorney’s office was unable to comment due to the gag order. Fox News attorneys also had no comment on the proceedings.