Freelance journalist subpoenaed by financial firm that he wrote about
Arun Gupta, a freelance journalist whose work has been published in The Nation and The Guardian, was subpoenaed on February 24, 2018, to testify at a deposition about a Nation article he wrote. Gupta did not contest the subpoena but refused to answer any questions related to his journalism and reporting process.
In August 2016, The Nation published “The Financial Firm That Cornered the Market on Jails,” an article by Gupta about Stored Value Cards — a financial firm, also known as Numi, that provides prepaid debit cards to local jails — and a class-action lawsuit that a former jail inmate filed against the firm.
In February 2018, as part of its defense in that class-action lawsuit, Numi subpoenaed Gupta to testify about his reporting.
“Recently, Numi and the bank subpoenaed and deposed me in order to gain access to all my potential notes, sources, documentation, recordings, and so on,” Gupta told the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
Gupta said that Numi originally tried to depose him in New York, but that his attorney was able to get the subpoena moved to Oregon, a state with a very strong press shield law.
Gupta oped to comply with the subpoena and was deposed on February 28, 2018, at the Portland offices of Davis Wright Tremaine, the media law firm representing him. At the deposition, he refused to answer any questions related to his reporting, citing reporter’s privilege.
“Because Oregon has such strong media shield laws, my lawyer was able to bat down virtually every question the [company’s] lawyer threw at me,” he said. “They got some information about my educational and work history, but nothing else.”