Victory for FAC’s Subpoena Defense Initiative 

A reporter for Berkeleyside, a daily news website in Berkeley, California, will not be required to testify in a criminal trial after FAC’s Subpoena Defense Initiative helped secure attorneys to protect the journalist’s rights under the state’s shield law.

Emilie Raguso, a senior reporter at the outlet, received a subpoena last month to testify in the criminal trial of William Turner, who was at the center of a case she covered. Lacking legal counsel to contest the subpoena, Raguso turned to FAC. The organization arranged for expert counsel to represent Raguso, at no cost to her or her publication. The lawyers, Karl Olson and Zach Colbeth, moved to quash the subpoena, arguing that California’s shield law protected Raguso from having to testify about confidential sources or notes.

Today, Turner’s attorneys withdrew their subpoena; Raguso will not be required to testify.

“This is a victory for press rights under California’s shield law,” said FAC Executive Director David Snyder. “This law offers strong protections for journalists’ confidential sources or notes—however, it is not self-enforcing and often requires knowledgeable counsel to protect these rights.”

FAC’s Subpoena Defense Initiative helps connect reporters with qualified counsel to defend against subpoenas seeking protected information. With the explosion in small start-up and/or nonprofit media outlets, as well as a steep rise in the number of freelance journalists, there is a significant and growing need for low- or no-cost legal representation in such cases.

Read more about FAC’s work here.

For more information, contact:

David Snyder
Executive Director
First Amendment Coalition

Karl Olson
Cannata, OToole, Fickes and Almazan LLP