3rd Blog Post- James Risen v US

The final case decision, regardless of what the verdict is, will have a huge impact on the legal issue of journalistic privilege. The case brings up the question of whether the First Amendment or federal common law provide any protection to a reporter who has promised to protect his or her sources.
If the case is decided in Risen’s favor, it will greatly benefit the journalism world, and provide protection to reporters in the future who do not reveal their sources. Although there is still no federal shield law, a decision in Risen’s favor will most likely expedite this process, and strengthen the shield law. This would be greatly beneficial for reporters in the future, and it would solidify the ideals for which the First Amendment stands for.
If the case is decided in favor of the U.S. it will definitely lessen the protection of reporters. Risen may also face jail time if the decision is against him. This decision would be unconstitutional and infringe on Risen’s rights under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court would be seen as even more conservative than ever before, which could effect their decisions in the future.

EC 3: Graphic images of MH17 crash highlighted the ‘underlying importance of ethics in journalism’

Although disturbing and hard to see, I think that these photos were necessary to get the message across to the public of how severe this incident really was. For a lot of people, seeing is believing…even in a situation as tragic and graphic as this one. Time Magazine captured the horrific scene in a way that got the message across without getting too detailed, and the fact that faces of victims were not included made the photos slightly more respectable to the families of those affected.

James Risen v. United States: Post #2

Outline of Case:

  • James Risen, a New York Times writer, wrote a book in 2006 titled “State of War”, which detailed a C.I.A. mission (Operation Merlin), which was set out to sabotage Iranian research on nuclear weapons by having a Russian scientist sell misleading blueprints.
  • The government issued Risen a subpoena, and when they asked him to reveal his sources he refused.
  • Judge Brinkema rejected this subpoena against Risen in 2011, but a three-judge panel on the Fourth Circuit reversed this due to the verdict in Branzburg v Hayes…it ordered Risen to follow through with the subpoena but he is still refusing.
  • Despite news organizations urging the Supreme Court to hear Risen’s case in order to bring light to this difficult subject, they followed through with their decision to not hear the case on June 2, 2014.
  • The key issue in this case is journalistic privilege

What is your overall philosophy on the law related to this case?

Journalistic privilege (also known as a shield law), is a component of any justifiable case, and should be upheld under any and all circumstances. These laws protect reporters from being forced to subpoena or reveal their sources, both of which happened to Mr. Risen. It is not lawfully acceptable for the court to force a reporter to reveal their sources if the information has already been released to the public, as it is a reporter’s duty to provide the public with the truth. Risen was doing his job, and therefore should not be punished, especially to this degree.

Lawyers: What justices will be sympathetic to your side and why?

Scalia for his libertarian viewpoints, and Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan (appointed by Democratic presidents) for their liberal viewpoints and prior support of the first amendment

James Risen v United States- Petitioning Attorney

As James Risen’s attorney, I am dedicated to proving his innocence in this case. Under the First Amendment, Risen is not guilty for refusing to reveal his sources for information revealed in his book, “State of War”. In the United States of America, we pride ourselves on the freedoms that we have been given to us  by our founding fathers, and  in this book, Risen was journalistically writing using those very freedoms. A journalist’s job is to report on the truth. Risen was upholding his ethical standards when he anonymously used information about a botched C.I.A.  Operation, given to him by a source that trusted and confided in him. The fact that he did not reveal his source was his choice, and his choice only. The government has no ground to legally punish him for following through with what his job is as a journalist. I am more than ready to defend Risen in this case, because I am confident we will win.image


First Amendment Freedoms

As one of the lawyers for the James Risen v. United States case, I would say that I could live without the freedom of petition. The other four freedoms (speech, press, religion, and assembly) allow for citizens of the United States to express themselves and their thoughts efficiently. The freedoms of assembly and petition are similar in the sense that they both preface a group of people wanting the government to enact change. However, the freedom of petition falls behind the freedom of assembly in my opinion because petition doesn’t bring as much attention to an issue as using the freedom of assembly does.

For example, if there was a historic building that the government wanted to tear down but the citizens of the town the building was in wanted it to remain standing, there are two different situations that could occur. A piece of paper with 500 signatures on it is definitely more underwhelming than a group of 500 people standing outside said building with signs and posters visibly sharing their opinion.

The freedom of petition is a helpful freedom to have, however if I had to choose, it would be the one that I could live without.