U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

The Daily Item reporter Francis Scarcella subpoenaed to testify in Pennsylvania murder trial

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 22, 2018

Subpoena/Legal Order

Legal Orders
Legal Order Target
Legal Order Venue
May 22, 2018

Francis Scarcella — a reporter for The Daily Item newspaper in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania — was subpoenaed to testify in the murder trial of Anthony “Rocco” Franklin, in May 2018. A hearing on the subpoena was held on May 22, 2018, and a judge quashed the subpoena two days later.

Franklin is currently on trial for the 2012 murder of his former son-in-law, Frank Spencer. He fled to Argentina but was arrested by Argentinian authorities, before being extradited to the United States on April 12, 2017. While Franklin was being held in an Argentinian prison, he reached out to the press. Scarcella conducted a phone interview with him and then wrote it up for The Daily Item. Two journalists at another newspaper, the Press Enterprise, also interviewed Franklin over the phone and wrote about it.

Prosecutors subpoenaed Scarcella and the two Press Enterprise reporters in order to force them to testify about statements that Franklin made to them during the interview. During a court hearing on the subpoena before Centre County Senior Judge David Grine, prosecutors complained that the papers’ reporting on the Franklin case had been “reckless.” 

On May 24, 2018, Judge Grine quashed the subpoena against Scarcella and the subpoenas against the Press Enterprise reporters.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].