Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Matter of Farber case brief

Matter of Farber case brief summary
394 A.2d 330 (N.J. 1978)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellants challenged a determination of the Superior Court, Appellate Division (New Jersey), that they were in contempt of court for failure to disclose information sought by subpoenas duces tecum by appellee State of New Jersey in a criminal case.

CASE FACTS
Appellants, a reporter and a news organization, were charged with contempt of court for failure to disclose information sought by subpoenas duces tecum by appellee State of New Jersey in a criminal case. Appellants contended they had a privilege to remain silent with respect to confidential information that emanated from the "free speech" and "free press" clauses of the U.S. Constitutional Amendment I.

DISCUSSION

  • The court on appeal held that the Supreme Court of the United States rejected a similar claim and held that no such right existed. 
  • Appellants also argued that a shield law, N.J. STAT. ANN. §§ 2A:84A-21 and 21a applied. 
  • The court found the law constitutional on its face, but held that it violated the U.S. Constitutional Amendment VI and the N.J. Constitutional art. 1, para. 10, as applied to the facts of the case, by denying a criminal defendant the right to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed that appellants were in contempt of court because the state constitutional guarantee of a criminal defendant's right to confront witnesses prevailed over the state statute granting privilege to newspersons regarding their sources of confidential information.

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