SD-SPJ statement on Davis case

The San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is deeply concerned about San Diego County government’s inappropriate treatment of journalist Kelly Davis after she exposed the deaths of dozens of people in its jails. Its action represents a failure of transparency and a misguided attack on a journalist instead of an attack on the very real and important problems she uncovered.

The County’s expensive legal attempt to subpoena notes, require testimony and reveal confidential sources is unconscionable. We demand a public pledge from the County to refrain from such retaliatory tactics against journalists who seek to hold government accountable on behalf of the citizens government should serve.

This case underscores the need for a federal shield law to protect journalists from being compelled to release confidential information. Either through legislation or case law, 48 states and the District of Columbia recognize the need for these protections and it is time for Congress to do the same.

We also commend attorney Matthew Halgren and his firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP for representing Davis pro bono and U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew G. Schopler for ruling in Davis’ favor.

Disclosure: Davis is an SPJ San Diego board member

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