Good News For Texas Journalists and The Public

It’s been a long and hard fought battle, but Texas Journalists now have a new law that protects us from revealing our sources in certain cases.

 On Wednesday Governor Rick Perry signed House Bill 670, which gives  a “qualified privilege to prevent journalists who receive a subpoena from having to testify or produce documents while acting as a journalist.”

 Here is the news release from the Governor’s office:

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry has signed House Bill 670, which provides a qualified privilege to prevent journalists who receive a subpoena from having to testify or produce documents gathered while acting as a journalist. The bill also allows journalists to protect their sources in certain cases.

“This was a complex issue that required thoughtful consideration, and I am pleased that lawmakers were able to strike a balance between protecting the rights of the people and the press,” Gov. Perry said. “I want to thank Rep. Martinez Fischer and Sen. Ellis for their work on this bill.”

Exceptions to the bill include instances when the requestors have proven that they have exhausted all reasonable efforts to get the information elsewhere, the subpoena does not ask for more than is necessary, and the interest in obtaining the information outweighs the public’s interest in protecting journalists.

Journalists are also required to identify a confidential source in a criminal case if the source was observed by the journalist committing a felony, confessed to the journalist that he committed a felony, or if there is probable cause to believe that the confidential source committed a felony and the prosecutor has exhausted all efforts to obtain the source’s identity. The journalist could also be made to reveal the source if disclosure is necessary to prevent certain death or substantial bodily harm.

This bill takes effect immediately.

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