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Article
Challenging Civil Contempt: The Limits of Judicial Power in Cases Involving Journalists
Communication Law & Policy (2011)
  • Daxton R Stewart, Texas Christian University
  • Anthony L Fargo, Indiana University - Bloomington
Abstract

Despite their assertion of a First Amendment or common law reporter’s privilege in federal courts, journalists continue to face jail sentences and exorbitant fines for refusing to divulge their confidential sources when subpoenaed. Efforts to pass even a limited federal shield law have failed so far. This article offers another avenue to protect journalists — examining the roots of contempt law and policy to highlight limits on the contempt power of judges. It argues that because journalists are part of a group resting on steadfast moral and professional convictions, they may validly argue that confinement and excessive fines are improper sanctions. The article also suggests refinements in shield law proposals and other legislation to clarify the extent of judicial contempt power.

Keywords
  • Contempt,
  • Journalists,
  • Free Flow of Information,
  • Shield Law
Disciplines
Publication Date
2011
Citation Information
Daxton R Stewart and Anthony L Fargo. "Challenging Civil Contempt: The Limits of Judicial Power in Cases Involving Journalists" Communication Law & Policy Vol. 16 (2011)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/daxton_stewart/8/