Fox News tells James Holmes's lawyers it will "vigorously" defend reporter against subpoena
The back-and-forth between Fox News and attorneys for accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes is getting heated. Holmes's lawyers are attempting to subpoena a Fox reporter who quoted unnamed law enforcement sources as saying that Holmes mailed a notebook to his psychiatrist "full of details about how he was going to kill people." Holmes's attorneys claim Fox is resisting their subpoena efforts. Fox's lawyer says it's not -- but it will.
Fox lawyer Dori Ann Hanswirth, who works for a New York-based law firm, sent a letter (on view below) to Holmes's public defenders Tuesday. In it, she says that contrary to what Holmes's lawyers say, they have not attempted to contact Fox News in order to subpoena reporter Jana Winter. Hanswirth calls assertions that the lawyers have done so "highly inappropriate" and asks for an explanation.
Hanswirth continues to say that "when and if" Holmes's lawyers do attempt to subpoena Winter, she will "assert all legal redress available." In New York, where Winter works, Hanswirth notes that "a reporter's confidential sources are absolutely privileged."
"We urge the defense to abandon its pursuit of testimony from Ms. Winter," Hanswirth writes. "If the defense is unwilling to do so, we will represent Ms. Winter vigorously."
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The letter was filed in court not by Holmes's attorneys but by prosecutors, who say they received a copy on Wednesday. "Due to the allegations" in the letter, prosecutors write, they thought the court should have a copy -- but say they "are not taking any position regarding the accuracy" of the letter.
On Thursday, Holmes's lawyers filed a response (also on view below). That prosecutors made the "highly accusatory" letter public is "extremely troubling," they write -- adding that the letter's "factual allegations...are untrue."
"Unsurprisingly, the information reported by Fox News is inaccurate, leading to incorrect conclusions and misleading, inflammatory accusations," Holmes's lawyers write.
An affidavit attached to their response details attempts to contact Fox News about the subpoena. A receptionist at the corporate office refused to give out both Winter's direct phone number and a direct number for Fox's legal department, it says, and messages left for Winter and the legal department were not returned.
Holmes's attorneys say they will not abandon efforts to subpoena Winter. A hearing to address the matter, at which Holmes's attorneys hope to question Winter about who "leaked" her the information about the notebook, has been postponed. Originally scheduled to begin February 4, it has been delayed until April 1.