Journalist Jamie Kalven due in court in Laquan McDonald case
CHICAGO (SUN TIMES MEDIA WIRE) - The South Side journalist who broke the story that the police version of the Laquan McDonald shooting did not match the video will be in court Wednesday, where lawyers of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke want to question him about his sources.
In court filings, Van Dyke’s lawyers say they need to know where Jamie Kalven got information used in articles that were the first to question the police account of the shooting, alleging Kalven had contacts inside the now-defunct Independent Police Review Authority and even the FBI, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
Kalven’s attorney said the reporter relied on public records, and Kalven himself has said he won’t give up his sources under any circumstances.
Kalven’s lawyer, Matt Topic, said Kalven will be in court Wednesday, but would not comment on “whether or to what extent he will testify.”
The potential First Amendment showdown has been covered in the local press and the pages of the New York Times, with 18 news outlets — including the Chicago Sun-Times — signing onto a brief supporting Kalven, filed by the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press.
Topic, who also has represented the Sun-Times in public records cases, has called Van Dyke’s request to put Kalven on the stand a “fishing expedition.”
Kalven’s February 2015 article, “Sixteen Shots,” for the online magazine Slate.com — published four months after the October 2014 shooting — was the first reporting to question police accounts of the shooting that said McDonald was “lunging” at officers when Van Dyke opened fire on the teen.
Lawyers for Van Dyke, whose motion to force Kalven to testify have been filed under seal, apparently imply that Kalven somehow got a hold of IPRA records that Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan has ruled can’t be used as evidence, according to a reply brief from Kalven’s lawyer that was filed publicly.
Brendan Healey, local counsel for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, said that forcing Kalven to testify would create a chilling effect for reporters and their sources, and he said the Illinois law sets a high bar to put a journalist under oath.
“We view the reporter-source relationship as sacrosanct,” said Healye, who has asked to address the court Wednesday. “I think the law goes to great lengths to protect that.”
This is not the first time Kalven, whose reporting has won a distinguished Polk Award as well as recognition from the Chicago Headline Club, has been subpoenaed.
More than a decade ago, city attorneys tried to force him to turn over his notes from a series of stories he wrote about police misconduct in the Stateway Gardens housing projects.
A federal judge ruled that Kalven, the son of prominent First Amendment lawyer Harry Kalven, did not have to give up his notes.