The New York State Court of appeals is set to decide whether Jana Winters can be compelled to testify in a Colorado court in a case which could have far-reaching consequences for the field of journalism.
Winters’ legal conflict began when when she published a notebook Aurora theater shooter James Holmes sent to a psychologist detailing his plans to kill people. In response, Holmes’ defense team argued the public disclosure of the notebook’s existence hurt their case and demanded the name of her confidential informant.
Winters’ defense argues New York and Colorado “shield laws” protecting journalists from revealing their sources legally allow her to refuse the request. However, Holmes’ defense team claims her source was an exception because the informant violated a gag order on the Aurora case.
Though a Colorado judge had previously agreed with Holmes’ defense and ruled that Winter was a necessary witness, approval is also required from courts in New York, where Winter currently resides. The Colorado decision was backed by rulings in the New York State Supreme Court and Appellate Division.