Prosecutor Meets Reporter in BALCO Case: No Real Regrets (On Either Side)

By: E&P Staff It must have been awkward, but there they were: The federal prosecutor and the reporter on the same panel. Her office won contempt-of-court rulings against two San Francisco Chronicle reporters in the BALCO steroids case, and he was one of them.

Former U.S. Attorney Debra Wong Yang and reporter Lance Williams appeared on the same panel Friday at the American Bar Association Convention in San Francisco.

Yang admitted that her job sometimes includes acting "sometimes not in a way you humanly feel good about" and "putting a reporter in jail is not a good score." But she added, according to a report in today's Chronicle,
that she had "no qualms about her office's prosecution of a case that nearly landed reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada in prison for up to 18 months. 'This was a high-publicity matter and it was something that was going to be difficult to walk away from,' Yang said.

"Noting that a federal judge had ordered the Justice Department to investigate leaks of confidential grand jury testimony, she said, 'We applied all the regulations. There wasn't any alternate source' except the reporters.

"Williams, sitting at the same table, expressed no regrets. 'We made a solemn promise that we were determined to keep,' he said, referring to the pledge of confidentiality to the source of the transcripts. 'We can't function as reporters if we can be turned into government informants on demand.' In exposing steroid use by prominent athletes, he added, 'we were doing the job that the government should have done.'"


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