View Full Version : Anthrax Reporter Held In Contempt

03-09-2008, 08:28 AM
Anthrax reporter held in contempt


The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- A federal judge held a former USA Today reporter in contempt of court Friday and ordered her to pay up to $5,000 a day if she refuses to identify her sources for articles about a former Army scientist under scrutiny in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said Toni Locy must pay fines out of her own pocket as long as she continues to defy his order that she cooperate in scientist Steven J. Hatfill's lawsuit against the government.

Hatfill accuses the Justice Department of violating his privacy by discussing the investigation with reporters.

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, said Walton appears to be trying to bankrupt Locy, a professor at West Virginia University's journalism school.

"What he's doing is essentially saying, 'Toni Locy I am going to destroy your life,'" Dalglish said. "This is just plain crazy. I know you're not supposed to call a federal judge arrogant, but this is arrogant."

Locy, 48, had asked that a contempt citation be delayed while she appeals to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The judge refused.

Starting at midnight Tuesday, Locy is ordered to pay fines of $500 a day for the first week, $1,000 a day for the second week and $5,000 thereafter until she appears before the judge April 3.

"To maximize the potential that Ms. Locy will ultimately comply with the court's order ... Ms. Locy is required to personally bear the responsibility of paying the fine the court imposed," Walton wrote.

Five people were killed and 17 sickened when anthrax was mailed to Capitol Hill lawmakers and members of the news media weeks after 9-11. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft called Hatfill "a person of interest" in the investigation.

Locy says she cannot remember whom she talked to about Hatfill specifically and is refusing to identify all the sources she spoke to about anthrax generally.