Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Prosecutor Denied Access To Reporter's Notes In Hovey Street Murder Case

Judge Steve Eichholtz ruled against Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's office and in favor of Star reporter Vic Ryckaert in an attempt by the prosecutor's office to force the reporter to turn over notes he made during an interview with one of the Hovey Street murder suspects last January. The Star's Jon Murray explains:

Marion County prosecutors had sought notes in January of an interview conducted by an Indianapolis Star reporter. Jasper Frazier, who later was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, attempted robbery and other counts, spoke with the reporter, Vic Ryckaert, by phone shortly before turning himself in to police in Toledo, Ohio.

Frazier, 36, told the reporter that he was inside an Indianapolis house Jan. 14 when two mothers and their two young children were fatally shot, but wasn't the one who killed them. An account of the interview appeared on The Star's front page the next day."We printed essentially what the person told us," said Dennis Ryerson, Indianapolis Star editor and vice president.

"We wouldn't have done our jobs if we hadn't printed the totality of the subject's comments in such an incredibly important case."

Indiana has a media shield law, IC 34-46-4, which provides a privilege to reporters against revealing the source of any information they gather in the course of their employment. In this case, Ryckaert's interview with the client was published in the Star.


Unknown said...

I know a good present for the Marion County Prosecutor's Office...a copy of the Indiana Code. Can they not read a simple statute?

Unknown said...

The media shield law clearly doesn't apply here. It only protects journalists against being forced to reveal sources. Ryckaert isn't being asked to reveal his source; police already know who the source is. Instead, he is being asked to turn over evidence that may or may not be relevant to the commission of a crime. There may be another reason why they aren't entitled to the information (although I'm not sure what it would be), but it's not the media shield law.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Yes, but the notes might include information on other sources who led Ryckaert to Frazier. He has already written about the interview. Why would police need to see his notes?