Judge effectively applies guard law in murder case

Aug 2, 2016


Judge effectively applies guard law in murder case

Posted in : Medic Aid on by : Bestmed Medical Aid Scheme
A Knox County judge recently stopped a fishing expedition that was most likely to ensnare journalism than capture a criminal.Lawbreaker Court Judge Steve Sword ruled Friday the Knox County District Attorney General’s office had actually cannot meet the high standard set under Tennessee’s press shield law to force the NBC newsmagazine show “Dateline” to turn over an interview of Norman Eugene Clark.


Clark is implicated in the December 2011 slayings of his pregnant sweetheart, Brittany Eldridge, 25, and their coming boy. A jury deadlocked with a vote of 11-1 to acquit him of the two first-degree murder charges in 2014. Clark granted “Dateline” an interview soon later, but it has not been relayed. The state is now seeking to retry him.

Deputy District Attorney General Kyle Hixson said at a hearing Thursday that although there is no suggestion Clark incriminated himself in the “Dateline” interview, his disposition could be relevant and helpful to the prosecution.

Sword, however, determined the state does unknown how Clark provided himself throughout the interview or exactly what he stated. Prosecutors can just speculate about the value of the interview to their case, and that is just inadequate to overcome the constitutional securities paid for reporters in shielding their sources and their information from the federal government.

Tennessee’s guard law, one of the strongest in the country, prevents authorities from compelling journalists to reveal “any info or the source of any info acquired for publication or broadcast.”

Anyone looking for to pierce the guard needs to show “by clear and convincing evidence” that the details is “clearly pertinent” to a legal infraction, cannot be gotten by other ways and that the state has an overriding interest in acquiring the details. In the history of Tennessee’s shield law, no appellate court has actually ever approved a relocate to force the media to either reveal sources or turn over information obtained throughout newsgathering.

Sword might have ruled the other way in Clark’s case, but the prosecution might not show they might get the information they looked for just by protecting the on-camera interview.

Sword composed that “the state must have some proof regarding the content of the interview and/or the nature of Mr. Clark’s attitude, mindset, mannerisms, etc., during the interview.”

Fidelity to the law must not be construed as compassion for the accused. The killing of Eldridge and her unborn kid was an abhorrent criminal activity, and the individual accountable needs to be brought to trial. Tennessee’s guard law provides authorities a method to obtain details from wire service under certain situations, but not at the expenditure of constitutional principles.

Without an efficient shield law, sources with details about federal government wrongdoing or incompetence may be unwilling to talk to reporters. A decision against “Dateline” would have had a chilling impact on the efforts of news organizations to find information and report it to the public. Sword’s ruling is an exceptional example of the proper application of this important open government law.

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