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Minn. Court Orders Sources’ Names Release

September 12, 2003

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ The state Supreme Court has ordered a reporter to turn over the names of his sources following complaints from a former high school coach who says he was defamed by school employees.

Ruling 5-2, the court on Thursday said Wally Wakefield must reveal anonymous sources used in a 1997 article in the weekly Maplewood Review.

The story concerned the school district’s decision to dismiss coach Richard Weinberger. The unnamed sources accused him of intimidating and abusing players, and refusing to heed direction.

Justice Alan Page wrote that Weinberger is entitled to the names because it’s the only way he can prove people intentionally spread false information about him.

The judge cited an exception in the state’s shield law, which generally protects the media from having to reveal sources or disclose unpublished information.

Wakefield, 73, who is semiretired, said he was ``extremely disappointed″ with the decision. He hadn’t read the ruling or talked to his lawyer Thursday, and said he was uncertain whether he would comply.

His lawyer, Mark Anfinson, said it was unlikely his client would take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A call Thursday to the Maplewood Review was not immediately returned.

Attorney Stephen Cooper, who represented the former coach, hailed the decision. ``None of these (shield) laws were designed to protect liars,″ he said.

Weinberger sued the school district and four of its employees, alleging breach of contract and defamation. Wakefield was not a defendant in the suit.

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