Friday, January 13, 2017

In re Judith Miller: The Oral Argument Reenacted

[We have the following announcement of In re Judith Miller: National Security and the Reporter’s Privilege, sponsored by the D.C. Circuit Historical Society to be held Tuesday, February 14, 2017, 4:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m., in the Ceremonial Courtroom, 6th Floor, E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse, 3rd Street & Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.  Admission is free.  Reservations are not required.  A reception with light refreshments will follow the program.]

In 2003, following articles in the press identifying Valerie Plame as a CIA agent, the Department of Justice undertook an investigation into whether government employees had violated federal law by unauthorized disclosure of her identity.  A special counsel was named and a grand jury convened.  The Government issued a subpoena to New York Times reporter Judith Miller seeking documents and testimony related to conversations she had had with a government official concerning Valerie Plame. Ms. Miller refused to comply with the subpoena and was held in civil contempt. She appealed, arguing both that the First Amendment affords journalists a constitutional right to conceal their sources and that reporters enjoy an evidentiary privilege under the common law to conceal confidential sources. The Court of Appeals (with separate concurring opinions by Judges Sentelle, Henderson, and Tatel) rejected both arguments and affirmed the District Court’s orders compelling Ms. Miller’s testimony. Our program will include a reenactment of arguments presented to the Court of Appeals, focusing on the existence of a reporter’s privilege founded on federal common law. Professor David Pozen will set the stage. Laura Handman will argue for Ms. Miller, Amy Jeffress for the United States, and Judges Tatel and Sentelle will preside.

Following the reenactment, Stuart Taylor will moderate a discussion exploring the appropriate balance between free speech and common law protections of reporters’ sources, on the one hand, and the government’s need to know in aid of its law enforcement and national security responsibilities, on the other.  Panelists will include Professor Pozen, the advocates Ms. Handman and Ms. Jeffress, as well as James Cole, who, as Deputy Attorney General, was a key person in the 2014 revision of the Department of Justice’s news media policies.

Setting the Stage
David Pozen, Professor of Law, Columbia University

For appellant Judith Miller, Laura R. Handman, Davis Wright Tremain LLP
For appellee United States, Amy Jeffress, Arnold & Porter LLP
Sitting as judges: David S. Tatel, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; David B. Sentelle, Senior Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

Panel Discussion
Moderator: Stuart S. Taylor, Jr., author, journalist, and lawyer
Panelists: James M. Cole, Sidney LLP; Laura R. Handman, Amy Jeffress, David Pozen