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In re January 11, 2013 Subpoena by the Grand Jury of Union Cty. - 432 N.J. Super. 570, 75 A.3d 1260 (Super. Ct. 2013)

Rule:

The Supreme Court held that "the Shield Law affords newspersons complete protection against disclosure of their confidential sources and the editorial processes leading to publication of [the subject matter at issue in the legal proceeding for which the claimant seeks protection under the Shield Law]."

Facts:

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Union County Prosecutor's office began an investigation into reports that several county employees improperly took county-owned generators for personal use during or after the storm. Renna, the primary writer and editor of a blog entitled "The County Watchers," authored two blog posts on the alleged misuse of county-owned generators by county employees during Hurricane Sandy and also concerning the subsequent Union County Prosecutor's investigation. The Prosecutor's Office, upon learning of the blog posts, sent Renna two letters requesting that she speak with the County's Special Prosecution Unit to discuss the matter with county investigators. When Renna failed to respond, the Prosecutor's Office issued a grand jury subpoena compelling her to testify concerning her knowledge of the improper use of county generators. Renna sought to quash the subpoena on the ground that it violated the New Jersey newsperson's privilege considering she was part of a team of correspondents who engaged in original news reporting, advocacy, and investigative journalism for the Union County Watchdog Association.

Issue:

Should the court grant Reena's motion to quash subpoena on the ground of newspaperman's privilege?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The Court granted Renna's motion to quash the grand jury subpoena holding that she qualified for "newspaperman's privilege" contained in N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-21. The  Supreme Court held that "the Shield Law affords newspersons complete protection against disclosure of their confidential sources and the editorial processes leading to publication of [the subject matter at issue in the legal proceeding for which the claimant seeks protection under the Shield Law]."

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