An attorney for the Akron Beacon Journal filed a timely response to last week’s Ohio Supreme Court order requiring the newspaper to explain why a reporter should not be held in contempt for declining to testify in an Akron Bar Association disciplinary hearing on one of its attorneys.
In a 4-3 decision announced Feb. 7, the high court ordered the newspaper and reporter Phil Trexler to respond within five days.
Attorney Karen C. Lefton did so Tuesday, asking the high court to deny a bar association subpoena to Trexler on the grounds that there is no standard under Ohio law establishing when a journalist can be compelled to testify in an administrative or quasi-judicial proceeding.
“To allow the Bar Association to compel Mr. Trexler to testify in this matter would open the door for administrative or quasi-judicial bodies to drag journalists into their proceedings anytime a news story has been published,” Lefton wrote.
Trexler had responded to the subpoena with a sworn affidavit saying: “I stand by the accuracy of the entire story, both the specific quotations and the general gist of paraphrased portions.”
The issue involves comments attributed to an Akron attorney, Larry Shenise, in a February 2012 story by Trexler.