The Supreme Court won’t force Fox News reporter Jana Winter to reveal sources for her story on the Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, the Associated Press reports.
Winter was the first to report that Holmes had sent a notebook including plans for the mass shooting to his psychiatrist before the attack, which she learned from law enforcement officers involved with the case. Holmes’ lawyers argue that this violated a judge’s gag order, and got the Colorado judge overseeing the case to issue a subpoena forcing her to reveal their names in testimony.
Winter refused to obey the subpoena and faced imprisonment for protecting her sources, inspiring even Gawker to write the incredibly generous “Here is a Fox News Reporter Who Doesn’t Belong in Jail.” (RELATED: Fox reporter’s emotional reaction after avoiding jail over sources)
Because she lives and works in New York, however, the subpoena was unenforceable without the approval of New York courts. The New York Court of Appeals ruled in Winter’s favor in December 2013, saying that she was protected under New York’s media shield laws. Holmes and his lawyers persisted and appealed to the Supreme Court just three months later to overturn the decision, which was finally rejected today. (RELATED: James Holmes’ lawyers appeal to Supreme Court to get reporter to testify)
Fox News released a statement praising the decision, saying “The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of free speech today. The Court made it clear that Jana Winter can never be compelled to testify in Colorado, and that all New York-based journalists and media companies can rely on New York’s strong shield law when they are covering news across the country.”
James Holmes, who has plead not guilty by reason of insanity, is facing the death penalty for the murder of 12 people in Aurora, Colorado in July 2012. His trial is scheduled to begin in October 2014.