U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Judge quashes subpoena for former KRON 4 reporter’s testimony

Incident Details

Date of Incident
December 7, 2020

Subpoena/Legal Order

Legal Orders
Legal Order Target
Legal Order Venue
December 7, 2020

A judge in California on March 8, 2021, quashed a subpoena for testimony from journalist Kate Cagle about a 2015 interview she conducted as a reporter for the San Francisco Bay Area TV news station KRON 4, according to the Palo Alto Daily Post. The San Mateo district attorney’s office had filed the subpoena on Dec. 7, 2020, seeking Cagle’s testimony about an interview she did with a man accused of murder.

Cagle, now a reporter for Spectrum News 1 in Los Angeles, interviewed the defendant in the murder trial, Daniel Contreras, at the San Mateo County Jail on Aug. 9, 2015, one day after Contreras was arrested for allegedly killing a toddler, according to the Post.

During the interview, Contreras said the child fell from his hands, contradicting an earlier statement to police that she had fallen from a table, the Post reported. According to the Post, Contreras also told the journalist he had “made a mistake.”

According to the Post, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said at a court hearing on March 8 that the prosecutor’s office sought testimony from Cagle to confirm that she was working independently from police when she interviewed Contreras. A detective with the Redwood City Police Department was present at the time of the interview and reminded the defendant of his Miranda rights, the Post reported.

Attorneys for Cagle argued that the California Shield law protected the journalist from being compelled to testify.

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Robert Foiles sided with Cagle, ruling that the prosecutor could not subpoena her to testify.

Wagstaffe’s office and KRON 4 did not respond to a request for comment. Cagle declined to comment.

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