U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Judge quashes subpoena of AP reporter in Idaho criminal case

Incident Details

Date of Incident
March 10, 2021
Boise, Idaho

Subpoena/Legal Order

Legal Orders
Legal Order Target
Legal Order Venue
March 10, 2021

Associated Press reporter Keith Ridler was subpoenaed on March 10, 2021, by anti-government activist Ammon Bundy, who was seeking Ridler’s reporting materials and testimony in a criminal case against Bundy in Idaho, the AP reported. An Idaho judge quashed the subpoena on March 15.

Bundy sought the information in a criminal case against him stemming from protests he led against COVID-19 measures at the Idaho Statehouse in August.

Ridler reported on and photographed Bundy’s arrests, according to the AP. The journalist was one of several people Bundy subpoenaed who were at the Statehouse at the time.

The AP filed a motion to quash Bundy’s subpoena on March 11. According to the AP’s report, the news organization argued that the subpoena would be a violation of “Idaho Reporter’s Privilege,” which protects journalists from being compelled to share certain information or testify.

“Subpoenas to members of the media are particularly onerous because they threaten to intrude into the newsgathering process,” AP’s attorneys wrote in the motion. “Being forced to testify or produce evidence in a court case also threatens the independence of a free press and potentially puts journalists at personal risk.”

Bundy, who is representing himself in the case, did not respond to the AP’s motion, the news organization reported.

On March 15, Ada County Magistrate Judge David Manweiler said that Bundy did not demonstrate that his subpoena would have met the criteria to proceed, according to the AP’s story.

Bundy’s trial was set to begin that day, but the defendant was not in attendance because he refused to wear a mask in compliance with court rules, the AP reported.

Bundy subsequently filed a second subpoena seeking reporting materials and testimony from Ridler on May 27, according to an AP spokesperson. That subpoena was also quashed. Find all subpoenas, which are documented separately on the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, here.A spokesperson for the AP declined to comment on the subpoena. The Tracker was not able to reach Bundy, who was found guilty on July 1 of trespassing and obstructing or resisting officers, for comment.

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