H. B. 2197
(By Delegates Beach, Kominar, Williams and Buchanan)
[Introduced January 14, 1998; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend article three, chapter fifty-seven of the code of
West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as
amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated section
ten, relating to evidence and witnesses; certain communications
to the news media privileged; "news media" defined;
application; scope of privilege; exceptions; compelled
disclosure; and waiver.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That article three, chapter fifty-seven of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be
amended by adding thereto a new section, designated section ten,
to read as follows:
ARTICLE 3. COMPETENCY OF WITNESSES.
§57-3-10. Certain communications to the news media privileged;
recipient not subject to being compelled to testify.
(a) For purposes of this section, unless the context requires
otherwise, "news media" means: Any printed, photographic,
mechanical or electronic means of disseminating news and
information to the public.
(b) The provisions of this section apply to any person who is,
or has been, employed by the news media in any news gathering or
news disseminating capacity.
(c) Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, any
judicial, legislative or administrative body, or any body that has
the power to issue subpoenas may not compel any person described
in subsection (b) of this section to disclose:
(1) The source of any news or information procured by the
person while employed by the news media, whether or not the source
has been promised confidentiality; or
(2) Any news or information procured by the person while
employed by the news media, in the course of pursuing professional
activities, for dissemination to the public, but which is not so
disseminated, in whole or in part, including, but not limited to,
notes, outtakes, photographs or photographic negatives, video and
sound tapes, films or other data, irrespective of its nature, not
disseminated in any manner to the public.
(d) (1) A court may compel disclosure of news or
information if the court finds that the party seeking news or
information protected under subdivision (2), subsection (c) of
this section has established by clear and convincing evidence
(A) The news or information is relevant to a significant legal
issue before any judicial, legislative or administrative body, or
any body that has the power to issue subpoenas;
(B) The news or information could not, with due diligence, be
obtained by any alternate means; and
(C) There is an overriding public interest in disclosure.
(2) A court may not, pursuant to this subsection, compel
disclosure of the source of any news or information protected
under subdivision (1), subsection (c) of this section.
(e) If any person employed by the news media disseminates a
source of any news or information, or any portion of the news or
information procured while pursuing professional activities, the
protection from compelled disclosure under this section is not
waived by the individual.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide for a limited
privilege for news media professionals and organizations to
protect information and sources from compelled disclosure.
This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.