On May 2, the House and Senate unanimously passed HB1502, which embodies the shield law; legislation to protect reporters from being required to disclose confidential information and sources in state court. If approved by the Governor, a shield law would confirm Hawai‘i’s commitment to Freedom of the Press and the free flow of information in journalism.
As a member of the Shield Law Steering Committee (the “Committee”), Jeffrey S. Portnoy, a partner in Cades Schutte’s Litigation Department, has been spearheading the effort to codify these protections. Hawai‘i’s shield law was first enacted in 2008 but had sunset in 2013, now it is one of two states that does not have such protections (the other state being Wyoming).
In the Committee’s news release, Jeff, who was instrumental in drafting the legislation in 2008 said, “The statute should never have been allowed to sunset for purely political reasons. It took more than a decade to make things right. I applaud the Hawaii legislature for reviving what many have called one of the most significant shield laws in the nation.”
HB1502 would provide protections for both traditional and digital news outlets by limiting “compelled disclosure of sources or unpublished information for journalists, newscasters, and persons participating in the collection or dissemination of news or information or substantial public interest,” with established exceptions.