Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fed Judge Quashes Street Performer's Subpoena of Globe Journo

Faneuil Hall circa 1890-1906Image via WikipediaIn Bruce Peck v. City of Boston(Civil Action No. 09-10606-JGD (D. Mass)), In re Subpoena to Donovan Slack (Misc. Case No. 11-00073(BAH)), U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Beryl A. Howell this week quashed a subpoena of Boston Globe reporter Donovan Slack by the plaintiff, a street performer, who alleges the City of Boston has violated his First Amendment rights.

As reported by Suits & Sentences, a legal blog by media conglomerate the McClatchy Co., Peck sought Slack's testimony based on an article she wrote in August 2008, entitled A Rhythmic, Rocking Cradle of Liberty No More, City Corrals Street Artists at Faneuil Hall, that detailed restrictions imposed by the Hub on street performers that confined them to a small space where they could display their talents to the tourists who flood the shops, restaurants and bars at Faneuil Hall.

Slack invoked reporter's privilege when she received the subpoena, and Judge Howell, in a 14-page decision, ruled that Peck failed to show that he attempted to secure the information he believed Slack possessed from alternative sources before resorting to the extraordinary remedy of subpoenaing Slack. Judge Howell voiced First Amendment concerns in noting that reporters' testimony should be compelled as a last resort, and chided the plaintiff for not detailing his efforts to obtain the information before pursuing Slack.
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