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FITSNews Files Response In Source Protection Case

The latest in a former lawmaker’s ongoing bid to have our founding editor thrown in jail …

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Attorneys for this news site and its founding editor Will Folks have submitted their formal response to a motion filed earlier this month by lawyers representing South Carolina majority leader Kenny Bingham – who is suing us for defamation.

Bingham is seeking to overturn last month’s groundbreaking ruling related to FITSNews’ ongoing source protection battle.

In late September, S.C. circuit court judge William P. Keesley issued his long-awaited ruling in this case – deciding against putting Folks in jail or imposing monetary sanctions against him for refusing to rat out his sources.

“The press has legitimate, essential and beneficial reasons for gathering and disseminating information from confidential sources, particularly concerning persons in power and those who hold positions of public trust,” Keesley wrote in his order (.pdf).

Amen to that …

Bingham’s attorney Johnny Parker initially claimed the judge’s order was a victory for his client. In an interview  with Corey Hutchins of The Columbia Journalism Review, Parker claimed Keesley’s ruling on the source protection issue “means our side wins.”

Days later, though, he changed his tune and asked Keesley to “amend (his) Order to find Folks in civil contempt.”

“If the Court does not hold Folks in civil contempt, the sanction should be such to adequately penalize him for his willful non-compliance with a court order,” Parker wrote in his motion (.pdf).  “Folks should not win on every count for violating a Court’s Order.”

Hmmmm …

Clearly this case – as we’ve said all along – isn’t about a “defamed” former politician seeking a libel judgment.  It’s about forcing us to reveal our sources.

In a response to this motion submitted to Keesley this afternoon, attorneys for Folks and FITSNews argued that Bingham’s appeal should be denied on the grounds that the judge’s original order “is correct in every respect.”

To read their filing as it was submitted to the court, click here (.pdf).

This news site will continue to stand on principle when it comes to our sources.  Whatever may come, we remain duty-bound in that respect.

For a full recap of this case in our founding editor’s own words, click here …

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