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Calif. Editor Begins Jail Sentence

February 26, 2000

RED BLUFF, Calif. (AP) _ A journalist who refused to disclose his sources began a five-day jail sentence Saturday for contempt of court, led into custody by a sheriff’s sergeant who patted him down as friends, colleagues and reporters watched.

``I’m at peace,″ said Tim Crews, 57, moments before he entered the steel gated enclosure at the rear of the Tehama County jail, about 220 miles northeast of San Francsico.

Crews, the publisher, editor and lead reporter of the twice-weekly Sacramento Valley Mirror in Glenn County, kissed and hugged his tearful longtime companion, Donna Settle, and waved to a knot of onlookers.

A deputy said Crews was expected to be placed in the jail’s minimum-security wing, which has dormitory-style quarters.

Late Friday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said it would review the issues in the case, but declined to block Crews’ incarceration.

Earlier, Superior Court Judge Noel Watkins ordered Crews jailed, indicating the journalist’s refusal to divulge his sources for a weapon-theft story had jeopardized the defendant’s constitutional right to a fair trial.

Crews, in a story based on unidentified sources, reported officials had long been aware of allegations that former California Highway Patrol officer Dewey Anderson stole a handgun from a county drug enforcement unit. Anderson has been ordered to stand trial, and his attorneys seek Crews’ sources in connection with the defense’s case.

In ordering Crews jailed, Watkins said the journalist has ``an obstinate, wrong-headed position.″

``The right of a newspaper reporter (to protect sources) is not absolute,″ Watkins added.

Crews’ June 8 article reported the 1995 allegations Anderson, who worked in the drug enforcement unit. Anderson later became a CHP officer and an undersheriff. He was charged with the theft last year after the gun turned up at a local high school.

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