Shield Law Bill Could Pass Today

By: Legislation granting journalists limited rights to protect confidential sources from disclosure in court cases might be attached to another bill in the Texas Senate, a political consultant says.

The shield law bill was shot down Monday night on a technicality in the House, dashing the hopes of those who'd fought for it that it would be passed this legislative session.

But the measure could survive by being attached to a copyright bill in the Senate that could be passed on Wednesday, said political consultant Bill Miller, who is working on the issue for the Texas Daily Newspapers Association and Texas Association of Broadcasters.

Its chances, however, are slim. Prosecutors have continually fought against the bill, saying it would hinder their ability to gather evidence in criminal cases.

The shield bill, dubbed by its supporters to be the "Free Flow of Information Act," would protect journalists from being compelled to testify about, disclose or produce confidential information in civil or criminal cases, with certain exceptions.

The legislation provides a legal test for a judge to decide whether a reporter's information is essential to a case.

Thirty-four states already have such a journalists' privilege and three more are considering one. Congress is also contemplating such a law.


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