Golden Gate University Law Review


This Comment will initially discuss the history of the shield law in California and examine how it has been defined by the courts in the leading cases. It will also discuss New York Times, Delaney and Hallissy in terms of the courts' application of the shield law to those cases. The analyses of New York Times and Hallissy will be contrasted with that of Delaney. This Comment will attempt to show how the New York Times/Hallissy analysis could have been applied to the facts of Delaney and still have yielded the same result. Recommendations will be made with respect to tests which would aid the courts in their efforts to achieve a greater degree of uniformity. Uniformity would lead to more predictable outcomes and further the goal of settling on a precise interpretation of the shield law statutes. This Comment proposes that despite the literal wording of the shield law, newsgatherers have at least a qualified privilege to not testify or disclose sources or unpublished information. The Supreme Court of California should recognize this qualified privilege in the interest of clarity and judicial economy. Finally, this Comment will argue that the more rational interpretation of the right conferred by the statute is one which views it as a qualified privilege. The particular facts of a case, as well as the newsgatherer's status as party or nonparty, should be the basis of the proper test to be applied where the shield is at issue.

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