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A reporter who refused to name her sources will not have to go to jail, at least for now. We reported Monday about Fox reporter Jana Winter, who faces six months in jail for refusing to name the sources that tipped her off about a notebook Aurora movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes gave his psychiatrist. One source said the notebook detailed how Holmes planned to "kill people" before the theater attack.
A Colorado judge delayed a ruling on whether to order Winter to testify. Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. first wants to know if the notebook will even be used in Holmes's trial.
It is something of a victory for Winter, but it may not be a long-term one. The judge's decision was "a little odd," said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director at Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Samour's ruling Monday essentially indicates he "does not need the information for the trial, he needs the information to examine his own investigation of who the source is," says Leslie.
Given the ruling, there now has to be a determination from the court as to whether or not the notebook is admissible, and that is going to turn on how much of the defense's argument involves mental health.
The ideal outcomes for Winter would be 1) the court says this evidence is relevant, and it is coming out in court anyway, so Winter does not have to reveal her source, or 2) the issue of who leaked Winter this information "is not in any way relevant to this case, so there should be no need for her to reveal her source," said Leslie.