Chicago blogger not required to turn over interview notes

Jamie Kalven is a Chicago-based journalist who covers the conditions in Chicago’s housing projects. He blogs at ViewFromTheGround.com. He covered the case of Diane Bond, a woman with a pending civil rights case in Federal Court against five Chicago police officers, some superintendents, an administrator, and the City of Chicago. The defense attorneys issued a subpoena on Kalven to turn over his notes from the interviews he conducted with the parties and witnesses. Kalven then fought the subpoena and the resultant motion to compel.

In a decision dated June 27, 2006, Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys issued an opinion in which he denied the motion to compel the enforcement of the subpoena and certain deposition questions. Incidentally, there is no such thing as a reporter’s privilege in the 7th Circuit. Instead, Kalven resisted the subpoena on the grounds that the subpoena was overbroad and there were more relevant, reasonable methods available to obtain the requested information. As Judge Keys notes, Kalven’s article itself is readily available to impeach witnesses, the notes themselves do not appreciably add to the defense’s ability to do so. As a side note, only Kalven’s notes from any conversations with the plaintiff herself are required to be produced, but only because she is the plaintiff and there is no basis for protecting those conversations.

The case is Diane Bond v. Chicago Police Officer Edwin Utreras, et al, 04 C 2617, Northern District of Illinois.

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