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In Wake of Kathleen Kane Probe, Grand Jury Calls For Limits on 'Shield Law' Protecting Reporters

By Brad Segall

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) -- Newly released documents surrounding the state grand jury investigating potential leaks involving Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane suggest that changes are due in the law that protects reporters from identifying their sources.

The grand jury's report to the supervising judge was released today by special prosecutor Tom Carluccio.

The grand jury says it would like to see the legislature whittle away the so-called "shield law" which protects reporters from having to disclose confidential sources -- to provide for a criminal fraud exception that would discourage the release of secret information.

But one First Amendment expert doesn't think it would be a very good idea.

"Right now reporters and sources understand exactly what the terms are of their agreements of confidentiality," says Philadelphia attorney Michael Berry, who specializes in media and First Amendment issues.  "Once those things get thrown into question, sources become reluctant to speak to the press."

He says that limits a reporter's ability to gather information and ultimately deprives that public of that information.

The grand jury said it doesn't want its recommendation to be viewed as an attempt to limit the freedom of the press.



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