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Journalists in most states are permitted under state law to protect the identities of their confidential sources. Those seeking the identities include defendants in criminal cases, prosecutors, and plaintiffs and respondents in various civil actions. Journalists usually decline to reveal their confidential sources so as not to become “an arm of the law” or an advocate for any cause or party. They also often want to shield people who genuinely have something serious to fear if their identities became known. Even so, some courts in some cases have defied shield laws and ordered journalists to reveal their sources under penalty of jail and fines. These papers analyze how various courts have interpreted state shield laws and determined who is a journalist with statutory protection. One major challenge is that anyone now can “publish” via the Internet. These papers compare rulings in different jurisdictions, and make recommendations.

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Annette Taylor

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This poster reflects research conducted as part of course project designed to give students experience in the research process.

Research exercise: Analyzing Circuit Court Rulings in Shield Law Cases