Pa. Supreme Court to Decide Whether Newspaper Must Reveal Source

By: The Pennsylvania state Supreme Court will decide whether a newspaper reporter must reveal the identity of a source used in a story about a grand jury investigation into alleged prison brutality.

The high court on Wednesday agreed to hear an appeal by two former Lackawanna County commissioners in connection with a libel suit they filed against reporter Jennifer L. Henn and her former employer, The Times-Tribune of Scranton.

Randall A. Castellani and Joseph J. Corcoran sued The Times-Tribune and Henn over a January 2004 story that said they were "considerably less than cooperative" in their appearances before the grand jury in the brutality case.

The plaintiffs demand to know the source of Henn's information.

The case will test how far state law goes in protecting newspapers from having to reveal anonymous sources.

Lackawanna County Judge Robert A. Mazzoni sided with the commissioners in June 2005, ruling that the importance of grand jury secrecy outweighed the protections of the Pennsylvania Shield Law, which gives reporters the right to guard the identities of their sources.

In January, the state Superior Court overturned Mazzoni's order, saying that Mazzoni had carved an improper exception to the Shield Law.

Grand jury proceedings are secret and state law bars prosecutors, court officials or jurors from discussing a grand jury investigation. Witnesses are not barred from discussing their testimony outside the courtroom.


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