Thursday, April 7, 2011

West Virginia Joins Ledger of States with Shield Laws

West Virginia State SealImage via WikipediaActing Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed a bill that will take effect on June 10, making West Virginia the 40th state (not including the District of Columbia) to enact a shield law protecting journalists from having to disclose confidential sources to authorities in civil, criminal and administrative proceedings.

The measure affords protection to paid online journalists and unpaid student journalists. The statute's language suggests that bloggers would not be protected.  Under West Virginia's shield law, a court may compel a journalist to divulge a confidential source only if "necessary to prevent imminent death, serious bodily injury or unjust incarceration."

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