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Report No. 93

VII. Directive of Justice Department

6.21. Directive by Justice Department.-

It should also be mentioned that in 1971 the justice Department,1 under Attorney-General John Mitchell, issued guidelines which, if followed, sharply restrict the power of U.S. attorneys to subpoena reporters, whether or not confidential sources are involved. Under these guidelines, no U.S. attorney may subpoena a reporter unless he has exhausted all other possible sources of the testimony he seeks. Even in such circumstances, the U.S. attorney must first obtain the explicit permission of the Attorney General before he subpoenas the reporter. Experience with these guidelines has been mixed. It is stated that as recently as late 1974, some government attorneys were not even aware of the guidelines. Nevertheless, these guidelines do stand as a formal Justice Department statement of principle and policy.2

1. 28 C.F.R. 50.10 (1974).

2. Howard and Joseph A. Califani, Jr. (Ed.) The Media and the Law, (1976) p. 1.17.

Disclosure of Sources of Information by Mass Media Back

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