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Press Contact: BA Snyder

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Amici brief filed to the NY Court of Appeals in support of Francis Robles, New York Times correspondent

Washington, D.C., February 22, 2018 –  The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, The Asian American Journalists Association, The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting and The National Association of Black Journalists filed an amici brief with the New York Court of Appeals in support of New York Times journalist, Frances Robles, in a case involving reporters’ rights to prevent the government from compelling the disclosure of newsgathering information.  Robles is seeking to quash a subpoena for her testimony and notes from a jailhouse interview with Conrado Juarez, who is on trial for the murder of “Baby Hope.”

“Forcing testimony of a journalist impedes the process from building trust in a relationship with sources and protection of materials gathered,” said Brandon Benavides, president of NAHJ.  “When we are forced to disclose confidential news sources and unpublished information, it threatens our service to communities and the responsibility we uphold in raising awareness of important knowledge.”

The brief argues that New York’s Shield Law protects Robles from being forced to testify because the government has failed to show that Robles’ nonconfidential, unpublished materials compiled in the course of newsgathering are “critical or necessary” to its claim.  The brief further argues that a narrow interpretation of the Shield Law’s “critical or necessary” prong is needed to advance important policy interests contemplated by the legislature and explains that those policy interests are particularly heightened in minority communities.

From the brief:

“[T]he more welcoming courts are to press subpoenas seeking disclosure of nonconfidential jailhouse interview materials, the less likely it is that local outlets can continue to provide the same level of investigative journalism and coverage of stories pertinent to minority communities.  To protect the press’s ability to freely cover important topics of interest from various perspectives (including jailhouse interviews), the Court should adopt a narrow interpretation of the ‘critical or necessary’ prong and deny the prosecution’s subpoena.”

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About NAHJ The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) is the largest organization of Latino journalists in the United States and dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry. The mission of NAHJ is to increase the number of Latinos in the newsrooms and to work toward fair and accurate representation of Latinos in news media. Established in April 1984, NAHJ created a national voice and unified vision for all Hispanic journalists. NAHJ has approximately 2,200 members, including working journalists, journalism students, other media-related professionals and journalism educators. For more information please visit NAHJ.org or follow on Twitter @NAHJ.