Report Title:

Journalists; Disclosure



Protects journalists from compelled disclosure of news or information and the sources of news or information.  Establishes exceptions.



S.B. NO.














RELATING TO evidence.





     SECTION 1.  Chapter 621, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

     "§621-    Protections for journalists against compelled disclosure; exceptions.  (a)  As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:

     "News" or "information" means written, oral, pictorial, photographic, or electronically recorded information or communication concerning local, national or worldwide events or other matters of public concern or public interest or affecting the public welfare.

     “Journalist” means any person, company, or entity, or the employees, independent contractors, or agents of that person, company, or entity, regularly engaged in the gathering, preparing, compiling, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information for dissemination or communication to the public via news media and that possesses the intent at the inception of the news-gathering process to disseminate the news or information to the public;

     “News media” means newspapers, magazines, journals, press associations, news agencies, wire services, radio, television or any other printed, photographic, mechanical, or electronic means of disseminating or communicating news or information to the public.

     “Compelling authority” means:

     (1)  Any court, grand jury, coroner’s inquest, jury, or any officer therof;

     (2)  The legislature or any committee or officer thereof;

     (3)  Any department, agency, or commission of the state;

     (4)  Any county governing body or committee thereof or any officer of a county government; or

     (5)  Any other authority having the power to compel testimony or the production of evidence by subpoena or other means.

     (b)  Except as provided in subsections (c) and (d) of this section, a journalist shall not be required by any compelling authority to disclose:

     (1)  The source of any published or unpublished, broadcast or nonbroadcast, disseminated or undisseminated news or information obtained or created by the journalist in a newsgathering capacity, whether or not the source has been promised confidentiality;

     (2)  Any news or information obtained or created by the journalist in a newsgathering capacity that has not been published, broadcast, or otherwise disseminated to the public, in whole or in part, including:

          (A)  Notes;

          (B)  Outakes;

          (C)  Photographs or photographic negatives;

          (D)  Video and sound tapes;

          (E)  Film;

         (F)  Any other form of original work product, document or data; and

         (G)  Other data, irrespective of its nature, not itself disseminated in any manner to the public.

  (c)  A court may compel disclosure of news or information, if the court finds that the party seeking news or information protected under subsection (b)(2) has established by clear and convincing evidence that:

     (1)  The news or information is relevant to a significant legal issue before a compelling authority;

     (2)  The news or information cannot be obtained from alternative sources; and

     (3)  There is a compelling and overriding interest requiring disclosure of the news or information where the disclosure is necessary to prevent injustice.

A court may not compel disclosure under this subsection of the source of any news or information protected under subsection (b)(1).

     (d)  Notwithstanding any provisions of this section, a court may compel disclosure of the source of news or information if the court finds that the party seeking the source of news or information protected under subsection (b)(1) has established by clear and convincing evidence that disclosure is necessary to prevent imminent death or significant bodily harm.

     (e)  This section shall not apply where probable cause exists to believe that the journalist has committed, is committing, or is about to commit criminal or tortious conduct.  This subsection shall not apply where the criminal or tortious conduct committed, being committed or about to be committed by the journalist is the act of disseminating or communicating the news or information sought for disclosure.    

     (e)  The content of any disclosure compelled under subsections (c) or (d) shall be narrowly tailored in subject matter and time covered so as to avoid compelling production of peripheral, nonessential, or speculative news or information.

     (f)  No fine or imprisonment shall be imposed against a journalist for refusal to disclose any news or information or source protected from disclosure under this section.

     SECTION 2.  This Act does not affect the rights or duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun, before its effective date.

     SECTION 3.  New statutory material is underscored.

     SECTION 4.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.