Court weighs reporters' phone record case

NEW YORK, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- A New York federal appeals panel has heard argument about the privacy of telephone records of two New York Times reporters.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wants the phone records of retired reporter Judith Miller and of Philip Shenon to learn who told them about planned December 2001 searches of Islamic charities in Chicago and Texas.


New York federal Judge Robert Sweet ruled against the government's request in February 2005, saying the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Branzburg vs. Hayes gave reporters broad First Amendment protections.

His ruling is at odds with a Washington federal appeals panel, which ruled in February 2005 that Branzburg vs. Hayes did not apply in another case involving Miller, which was about who identified an undercover CIA operative.

Monday's questioning by the New York appeals panel was largely sympathetic to the reporters' positions, The New York Times reported.

"There is no distinction between subpoenaing me and subpoenaing my phone records," Miller said outside the hearing. A decision will be made at a later date.

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