Rights of Spring

Pro-choicers walk, attorney serves up double-talk

"Obviously, as a matter of First Amendment privilege, it's our view that these materials in total are protected. But if it is the court's belief that the privilege does not exist to protect some of these materials, such as the Knickmeyer interview, it would be our position that our hands are then tied," he said. ". . . If the jury gets to look at the notes as to Steve Knickmeyer, it seems to me they're going to have questions about the notes of conversations with [laid-off reporter Kim Sue Lia] Perkes, who made some very nasty accusations about the Arizona Republic. So it seems to me that if the privilege doesn't protect one, it doesn't protect the other."

In other words, "Nyah, nyah, nyah." So much for Doug Underwood's rights. Johnson looked annoyed, plaintiff's attorney Amy Gittler (and former Bodney law partner) looked amused, and the judge looked befuddled.

"I'm invading the privilege only as far as I think it needs to be invaded," Armstrong said. And when Bodney raised the issue again, her reply was, "Frankly, I don't know what standing you have to enforce their subpoena . . . . You may need to pursue some of this information yourself."

Will he? Who knows? Bodney tells me he is misunderstood -- that he and his client will never want any of those notes, that he simply wanted to prevent Gittler from getting hold of any more of them. But Gittler and Johnson each say they heard Bodney the same way Judge Armstrong and I did. Two days after the hearing, PNI's attorney was back to championing the First Amendment, in the pages of none other than the Arizona Republic, which reported an edited version of the hearing's proceedings and included this harrumph from Bodney:

"We think it ironic and sad that reporters would sue an editor and a newspaper for defamation, and for them to take the further step to compel a non-party reporter to produce his unpublished notes for their unfettered review shows insensitivity to journalists' rights."

How ironic and sad.

Contact Amy Silverman at 602-229-8443 or at her online address: amy.silverman@newtimes.com

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