Appeals Court Reverses Stay For TV Producer
LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ A television producer who refused to give interview tapes to a grand jury was not covered by a law protecting reporters and their sources because the law only applies to the print media, a court has ruled.
The decision would permit the jailing of Bradley Stone, a producer for WJBK-TV in Detroit. However, an attorney for Stone said she would appeal the ruling.
A Michigan Court of Appeals panel, which March 21 barred Stone’s jailing for contempt, reversed itself Thursday, saying the producer was not covered by the state Shield Law, which protects reporters and their sources.
The appellate panel held that the Shield Law applies to the print media, not television and radio.
″The United States Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment does not relieve a newspaper reporter of the obligation that all citizens have to respond to a grand jury subpoena and answer questions relevant to a criminal investigation,″ the panel said. ″We declined to extend the Michigan statute to include the electronic media.″
Wayne County Circuit Judge William Giovan had cited Stone for contempt March 18 and ordered him jailed if he refused to turn over taped interviews with teen-age gang members to the grand jury.
The latest decision ″means that Brad will have to report to go to jail in the very near future,″ said his lawyer, Zan Nicolli.
Nicolli said she planned to file an appeal today with the Michigan Supreme Court.
Stone declined comment on the ruling.
The grand jury is investigating the slaying of Paul L. Hutchins, an off- duty state trooper who was shot during a robbery Aug. 30 in downtown Detroit.
Henry Saad, a lawyer for Storer Communications Inc., owner of WJBK-TV, had said Stone had testified before the grand jury but refused to turn over the tapes he produced last July for a WJBK series on teen-age gang activity in downtown Detroit.
The teen-agers consented to the interviews on condition that Stone not reveal their identities.
Giovan ordered Stone jailed either until he agreed to surrender the tapes or until the grand jury’s term expired on Jan. 7, 1987.