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Report No. 93

6.18. Farber case-Recent Development (New Jersey).-

Another recent development worth noting relates to the well known Farber case, which arose in New Jersey in 1978. The case related to the murder trial of "Dr. X". In the trial, a surgeon had been accused of murdering five hospital patients by injecting them with curare. A journalist M.A. Farber had to undergo criminal penalties after the newspaper New York Times and its reporter refused to turn over the reporter's notes during the trial. Farber had to spend 40 days in jail and the New York Times paid a total of 2,85,000 dollars in fines for defying a court order that Farber should provide the defence with all his notes for his story and reveal his confidential sources.

6.19. Pardon by the Governor. On 19th January, 1982, the Governor of New Jersey Brendan Byrne, on his last day in office, returned the criminal penalties and issued pardon. The Governor noted the changes made in 1980 in the Shield Law of New Jersey, which required a hearing before the reporter is compelled to reveal his sources. "Farber and the New York Times were attempting to uphold a principle they believed in. They should not be burdened by a record of criminal contempt any longer". This is what Governor Byrne stated.1

1. (23 January, 1982), Editor & Publisher, p. 6.

Disclosure of Sources of Information by Mass Media Back

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