Novice Crime Writer Still In Jail

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(AP) Novice crime writer Vanessa Leggett has spent her 100th day in jail for refusing to surrender her interviews for a book about a Houston society murder.

She said she longs to get back to writing but she’s prepared to remain behind bars until January, when the term of the grand jury that requested her notes and the contempt citation against her end.

“I hear traffic reports about the freeway stacked up in the afternoon, and I would love to be in my car in the middle of traffic going home,” Leggett said in the Houston Chronicle‘s Wednesday editions.

She writes letters to friends but is wary of doing anything more since her writings could be inspected at any time and confiscated when she is released.

“The most frustrating thing is not to have my computer,” she said. “I feel like an amputee.”

A photo of Leggett, 33, is posted prominently on the Web site of the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press and she holds the record for the most time spent in jail for failing to turn over information to authorities. Last weekend, she spent her 100th day at the Houston Federal Detention Center.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that neither she nor journalists have a qualified privilege protecting confidential sources. Prosecutors say she must obey a grand jury subpoena to turn over notes of conversations with dozens of people regarding bookie Robert Angleton.

Angleton, the subject of the grand jury’s investigation, was earlier acquitted in state court on charges of hiring his brother, Roger, to kill his wife. Doris Angleton was found shot to death at the couple’s home in 1997. Roger Angleton killed himself in jail 10 months later, leaving behind a note exonerating his brother.

After the acquittal, the district attorney requested a review of Angleton’s affairs.

Leggett was served with a grand jury subpoena and appeared before the grand jury last December. When she declined to answer questions regarding confidential sources, she was found in contempt. The contempt citation will last until the end of the grand jury’s term, but Leggett fears the government might then pursue her on criminal contempt charges.

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