Friday, January 10, 2014

Now what?

Is the defense team for Tony and Ralphiel Mack trying to stifle coverage of their trial on corruption charges?

{edited at 9 pm, 1/10/14 to include notes about and from the Times article on the matter}

On the same day that jurors and the public heard a recording of JoJo Giorgianni complain about Trentonian columnist LA Parker constantly writing stories picking on Trenton Mayor Tony Mack, the defense team appears to have subpoenaed another Trenton reporter.

On Friday evening, the Times of Trenton published a story online noting that Thursday morning, January 9, Times of Trenton reporter Alex Zdan was served with a subpoeana asking for "all notes pertaining to coverage of the Mack et al matter."

According to the article by Jenna Pizzi,
“Attorneys for The Times have notified the judge and the defense attorney of our intent to fight the subpoena," said Matt Dowling, editor of The Times. "Courts have long-recognized a privilege deeply rooted in the First Amendment that protects reporters from being compelled to provide evidence in judicial proceedings.”

Just after Judge Michael Shipp called a one hour recess for lunch on Thursday, Times reporter Alex Zdan was approached by Robert Haney, attorney for Ralphiel Mack.

Haney, accompanied by private investigator Buddy Wright, walked over to where Zdan was speaking with colleague Jenna Pizzi.

Haney and Wright stood slightly apart for a moment and were largely ignored by the reporters. After politely waiting for a pause in the conversation, Haney asked Zdan if he had been “served.”

There was a very tense pause while Zdan just stared at Haney. Finally, Zdan told Haney that he would not and probably should not speak with him, at least not without a lawyer present. The reporter’s tone was calm and measured but there was unmistakable tension in the words.

Haney nodded and stated that was why he had approached Zdan. He asked that any legal representative of the reporter’s please contact him.

This happened the same day that a lengthy article based upon an interview Zdan did with Giorgianni appeared in the Times. Whether that article was the catalyst for the legal action against Zdan is not known.

Zdan’s reporting on the entire investigation from the time of the FBI raids of the homes of the Mack brothers and Giorgianni has been intensive. He has uncovered the reasons why search warrants were issued for certain individuals.

We hope the defense is not unfairly trying to silence the press or discourage further investigative reporting as part of its trial strategy.

And we hope the defense team is a zealous in pursuing  and preventing possible witnesses from sitting in the courtroom during proceedings, such as Rodney Washington did on Thursday.

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