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Friday, April 10, 2015

Ind. Courts - "Prosecutor orders Elkhart Truth reporter to surrender notes and recordings"

Tha is the headline to this story this morning in the Elkhart Truth, reported by Michelle Sokol. Some quotes from the long story:

An Elkhart Truth reporter has been ordered by the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office to appear for testimony and surrender interview notes and recordings related to a story she wrote in late March about a felony murder investigation.

Emily Pfund, who covers crime and courts for the newspaper, was issued a subpoena Wednesday, April 8, from Vicki Becker, the chief deputy prosecuting attorney.

The notice, filed in Elkhart Circuit Court, commands Pfund to appear at an upcoming hearing and produce “any and all written notes and/or memorabilia, and audio and/or video recordings ... relating to any contacts with one Freddie Rhodes, or information that has come from Freddie Rhodes or is attributed to have come from Freddie Rhodes.”

The Elkhart Truth will fight the subpoena. * * *

Rhodes, 19, was charged with felony murder in September 2014 after an alleged attempted drug robbery in which 18-year-old Dre Tarrious Rodgers was shot and killed. Rhodes, who is not being accused of pulling the trigger, was arrested about two hours after Rodgers died.

Part of the evidence prosecutors used to formally accuse Rhodes came from his statements the night of his arrest, according to court documents.

Those statements were the focus of an article by Pfund published March 22. In an interview at the Elkhart County Jail, Rhodes shared his account of the night of his arrest with Pfund. Pfund also interviewed Rhodes’ mother, Wanda Malone-Shorter, about the arrest. * * *

The hearing to suppress that evidence is scheduled for Monday, April 13. It’s the same hearing where Pfund has been commanded to appear and hand over notes and recordings.

The act of subpoenaing reporters is rare in Indiana, said Steve Key, executive director and general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association.

The Indiana law granting journalist’s privilege, or shield law, is strong and protects reporters from being forced to reveal information about their sources, Key said.

The law states reporters “shall not be compelled to disclose in any legal proceedings or elsewhere the source of any information procured or obtained in the course of the person’s employment or representation of a newspaper.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 10, 2015 09:49 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts