Reporter faces $5K/day fines

May 11, 2008 at 1:21 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- A former USA Today reporter is waiting for a U.S. appellate court to decide whether she should pay $5,000 a day for refusing to name sources.

Toni Locy was subpoenaed by Steven Hatfill, a former government scientist who has sued the federal government. Hatfill was identified as a "person of interest" in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

A three-judge panel in Washington heard arguments Friday on the contempt of court fines imposed by U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said.

Judges questioned whether the information Hatfill is seeking from Locy is so critical that it justifies demanding that she identify every source she talked to, or might have talked to, about the anthrax investigation. Hatfill and his lawyers were able to identify three sources used by reporters, including two used by Locy, during discovery.

"You've said that you've got enough to go to trial. You think you can win," Judge Douglas Ginsburg said to Chris Wright, Hatfill's attorney. "So why is more evidence critical to the case? That seems to be a contradiction."

The fines were imposed by Walton, who presided over the perjury trial of I.Lewis Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

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