Hogan Lovells Partner Chris Handman Named American Lawyer Litigator of the Week
16 December 2013
NEW YORK, NY, 16 December 2013 – Hogan Lovells is pleased to announce that The American Lawyer has named Appellate Partner Chris Handman its Litigator of the Week for scoring a major victory in a high-profile freedom of the press case. Fox News reporter Jana Winter was facing jail time for refusing to reveal her confidential sources related to the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting. The American Lawyer noted that Handman “turned the case around this week, winning a ruling that's being hailed as a milestone for press freedom.”
Winter had been under subpoena to testify about confidential sources relating to her coverage of a movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012. She reported that a “chilling notebook” had been sent to the University of Colorado by the defendant James Holmes, citing two unnamed law enforcement officials as her sources. The lower court in New York approved a subpoena directing Winter to appear and testify in the Colorado case.
In his argument before the New York Court of Appeals, Handman maintained that forcing Winter to travel to Colorado, where she would be asked to reveal her confidential sources or go to jail for refusing to do, would violate New York’s clear policy and tradition “of providing the utmost protection of freedom of the press.” That policy was evidenced by New York’s Shield Law for journalists, the strongest such law in the nation. The Court of Appeals agreed, finding that “safeguarding the anonymity of those who provide information in confidence is perhaps the core principle of New York’s journalistic privilege.” According to the Court of Appeals, this principle represented a “New York public policy of the highest order,” and forcing Winter to travel to Colorado to testify “would offend our strong public policy” and “the core protection of the Shield Law.”