By: Joel Davis
Several Other Cases Involving Shields, Access Pending
Rural Northern California newspaper editor Tim Crews, winner of several
journalism awards after being jailed in February for refusing to reveal
sources, got more good news last week when a second subpoena seeking
sources in the same case was withdrawn.
Crews, editor of the small, feisty Sacramento Valley Mirror, faced more
time in jail because of his stance in refusing to divulge sources in
the upcoming trial of a former California Highway Patrol officer
accused of stealing a firearm in Tehama County. However, the Tehama
County district attorney’s office dropped the theft charge that
compelled the subpoena in favor of a different charge. This move made
Crews’ testimony unnecessary.
‘They will now be recalling the subpoena, and we will be done with it,’
said Crews attorney Ron McIver.
Crews seemingly has been honored more times this spring than the film
‘American Beauty.’ After spending five days in February in the Glenn
County Jail in Red Bluff, Calif., he has been recognized by several
organizations. Among his honors:
? The James Madison Freedom Information Award from the Northern
California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists on March
? The Hofstra University/Francis Frost Wood Courage in Journalism Award
at the Freedom Forum in New York last Wednesday.
? The California Society of Newspaper Editors’ Bill Farr Award
recognizing exemplary accomplishment with respect to ‘the people’s
right to know,’ which will be given to Crews on May 5.
The Crews case is one of several in the Western United States involving
shield and access issues.
Journalist Doug Underwood, an associate professor at the University of
Washington’s School of Communications, has been ordered by a Superior
Court judge to surrender notes for a Columbia Journalism Review story
about 18 laid-off Arizona Republic reporters who are suing the
newspaper and former Managing Editor Steve Knickmeyer.
The Washington Court of Appeals is currently reviewing the lower
court’s decision. Underwood is appealing on the grounds that the notes
– which, unlike the Crews case, don’t involve confidential sources –
are protected by the First Amendment, as Washington state has no shield
Defense attorneys in a separate case are also seeking notes from San
Francisco Chronicle new-media columnist Dan Fost. Fost faced a $1,000-
a-day fine for declining to answer questions about a murder case that
he covered as a reporter for the Marin Independent Journal in Novato,
Calif. The case was argued April 12 at the California Court of Appeals,
and Fost is awaiting the court’s decision.
Also in California, veteran Los Angeles Times reporter Mark Arax has
been allowed back in a courtroom after he was barred from the federal
trial of eight Corcoran State Prison guards accused of staging fights
among prisoners. U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii at first denied Arax
courtroom access because the defense subpoenaed him on April 18 as a
During a brief court meeting, an L.A Times attorney argued that Arax
should be allowed to stay because he’s the paper’s only writer in
California’s Central Valley and because First Amendment considerations
should trump the judge’s initial decision.
The judge agreed, finding that the defendants’ Sixth Amendment right to
a fair trial wouldn’t be jeopardized by letting Arax remain in court.
JAILED CALIFORNIA JOURNALIST FREE (03/06/00)
CALIFORNIA JOURNALIST JAILED (02/28/00)
CALIFORNIA REPORTER HELD IN CONTEMPT (01/20/00)