Rule 508. Newspersons Privilege
Subject to Rule 37 [Rule 530], a person engaged on, engaged in, connected with, or employed by news media for the purpose of gathering, procuring, transmitting, compiling, editing or disseminating news for the general public or on whose behalf news is so gathered, procured, transmitted, compiled, edited or disseminated has a privilege to refuse to disclose, in any legal or quasilegal proceeding or before any investigative body, including, but not limited to, any court, grand jury, petit jury, administrative agency, the Legislature or legislative committee, or elsewhere:
a. The source, author, means, agency or person from or through whom any information was procured, obtained, supplied, furnished, gathered, transmitted, compiled, edited, disseminated, or delivered; and
b. Any news or information obtained in the course of pursuing his professional activities whether or not it is disseminated.
The provisions of this rule insofar as it relates to radio or television stations shall not apply unless the radio or television station maintains and keeps open for inspection, for a period of at least 1 year from the date of an actual broadcast or telecast, an exact recording, transcription, kinescopic film or certified written transcript of the actual broadcast or telecast.
Unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context of this act, as used in this act:
a. News media means newspapers, magazines, press associations, news agencies,
b. News means any written, oral or pictorial information gathered, procured, transmitted, compiled, edited or disseminated by, or on behalf of any person engaged in, engaged on, connected with or employed by a news media and so procured or obtained while such required relationship is in effect.
c. Newspaper means a paper that is printed and distributed ordinarily not less frequently than once a week and that contains news, articles of opinion, editorials, features, advertising, or other matter regarded as of current interest, has a paid circulation and has been entered at a United States post office as second class matter.
d. Magazine means a publication containing news which is published and distributed periodically, has a paid circulation and has been entered at a United States post office as second class matter.
e. News agency means a commercial organization that collects and supplies news to subscribing newspapers, magazines, periodicals and news broadcasters.
f. Press association means an association of newspapers or magazines formed to gather and distribute news to its members.
g. Wire service means a news agency that sends out syndicated news copy by wire to subscribing newspapers, magazines, periodicals or news broadcasters.
h. In the course of pursuing his professional activities means any situation, including a social gathering, in which a reporter obtains information for the purpose of disseminating it to the public, but does not include any situation in which a reporter intentionally conceals from the source the fact that he is a reporter, and does not include any situation in which a reporter is an eyewitness to, or participant in, any act involving physical violence or property damage.
Where a newsperson is required to disclose information pursuant to a subpena issued by or on behalf of a defendant in a criminal proceeding, not including proceedings before administrative or investigative bodies, grand juries, or legislative committees or commissions, the provisions and procedures in this act are applicable to the claim and exercise of the newspersons privilege under Rule 27 (C. 2A:84A-21).
Proceedings pursuant to this act shall take place before the trial, except that the court may allow a motion to institute proceedings pursuant to this act to be made during trial if the court determines that the evidence sought is newly discovered and could not have been discovered earlier through the exercise of due diligence.
a. To sustain a claim of the newspersons privilege under Rule 27 [Rule 508(a)] the claimant shall make a prima facie showing that he is engaged in, connected with or employed by a news media for the purpose of gathering, procuring, transmitting, compiling, editing or disseminating news for the general public or on whose behalf news is so gathered, procured, transmitted, compiled, edited or disseminated, and that the subpenaed materials were obtained in the course of pursuing his professional activities.
b. To overcome a finding by the court that the claimant has made a prima facie showing under a. above, the party seeking enforcement of the subpena shall show by clear and convincing evidence that the privilege has been waived under Rule 37 [Rule 530] (C. 2A:84A-29) or by a preponderance of the evidence that there is a reasonable probability that the subpenaed materials are relevant, material and necessary to the defense, that they could not be secured from any less intrusive source, that the value of the material sought as it bears upon the issue of guilt or innocence outweighs the privilege against disclosure, and that the request is not overbroad, oppressive, or unreasonably burdensome which may be overcome by evidence that all or part of the information sought is irrelevant, immaterial, unnecessary to the defense, or that it can be secured from another source. Publication shall constitute a waiver only as to the specific material published.
c. The determinations to be made by the court pursuant to this section shall be made only after a hearing in which the party claiming the privilege and the party seeking enforcement of the subpena shall have a full opportunity to present evidence and argument with respect to each of the materials or items sought to be subpenaed.
Upon a finding by the court that there has been a waiver as to any of the materials sought or that any of the materials sought meet the criteria set forth in subsection 3.b. [C.2A:84A-21.3 (b)], the court shall order the production of such materials, and such materials only, for in camera inspection and determination as to its probable admissibility in the trial. The party claiming the privilege and the party seeking enforcement of the subpena shall be entitled to a hearing in connection with the in camera inspection of such materials by the court, during which hearing each party shall have a full opportunity to be heard. If the court, after its in camera review of the materials, determines that such materials are admissible according to the standards set forth in subsection 3.b., the court shall direct production of such materials, and such materials only.
After any hearing conducted by the court pursuant to section 3 or 4 [C.2A:84A-21.3 or 2A:84A-21.4] hereof, the court shall make specific findings of fact and conclusions of law with respect to its rulings, which findings shall be in writing or set forth on the record.
An interlocutory appeal taken from a decision to uphold or quash a subpena shall act as a stay of all penalties which may have been imposed for failure to comply with the courts order. The record on appeal shall be kept under seal until such time as appeals are exhausted. In the event that all material or any part thereof is found to be privileged, the record as to that privileged material shall remain permanently sealed. Any subpenaed materials which shall, upon exhaustion and determination of such appeals, be found to be privileged, shall be returned to the party claiming the privilege.
Where proceedings are instituted hereunder by one of several co-defendants in a criminal trial, notice shall be provided to all of the co-defendants. Any co-defendant shall have the right to intervene if the co-defendant can demonstrate, pursuant to section 3 [C.2A:84A-21.3], that the materials sought by the issuance of the subpena bear upon his guilt or innocence. Where such intervention is sought by a co-defendant, that co-defendant shall be required, prior to being permitted to participate in any in camera proceeding, to make that showing required of a defendant in section 3.
If the court finds no reasonable basis for requesting the information has been shown, costs, including counsel fee, may be assessed against the party seeking enforcement of the subpena. Where an application for costs or counsel fee is made, the judge shall set forth his reasons for awarding or denying same.
HISTORY:Adopted September 15, 1992 to be effective July 1, 1993.