|Federal Grand Jury Subpoenas S.F.
Chronicle’s Williams (l) And Fainaru-Wada
The S.F. Chronicle and reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada received
subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury about “leaked court documents
used as the basis for articles that linked well-known athletes to the use of performance-enhancing
drugs,” according to Fernandez & Herel of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The subpoenas call
for the pair “to provide any grand jury transcripts in their possession” related
to the BALCO investigation, and also asks them to “provide the packaging in which
they received any transcripts, as well as any information they have regarding
the identity of the person or persons who leaked the documents.” The subpoenas
are the “latest examples of an increasingly common strategy by federal prosecutors
to force reporters to reveal their confidential sources or be cited for contempt
of court.” California First Amendment Coalition Exec Dir Peter Scheer said, “It
could go as far as asking the federal judge presiding over the BALCO case to hold
the reporters in contempt and to order the reporters to jail and to order the
newspaper to pay a huge fine for every day that they don’t disclose the source.”
But Chronicle Exec Editor Phil Bronstein said, “We believe that our ability to
report on this issue is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
In the case of the steroid story, the public was well served by that reporting,
which sparked a national discussion and debate about steroid use in sports and
ultimately led to enactment of stricter steroid policies by [MLB].” Hearst Corp.
VP & General Counsel Eve Burton, whose company owns the paper, added, “The Chronicle
and its reporters intend to fight the subpoenas vigorously” (S.F.