U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Newspaper editor compelled to reveal confidential sources in defamation lawsuit

Incident Details

June 30, 2022

A judge ordered the editor of the Everett Leader Herald to release names of confidential sources and unpublished reporting materials on June 30, 2022, as part of a defamation case filed by the mayor of Everett, Massachusetts.

According to UniversalHub, a news and information site for the Boston area, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria sued Joshua Resnek on Oct. 7, 2021, claiming Resnek published “defamatory falsehoods” in three separate articles in the weeks leading up to the mayoral primary.

The official complaint states that Resnek published an article on Sept. 8, claiming that DeMaria had “extorted the City Clerk into paying him $96,000” as part of a real estate transaction. DeMaria, who did not respond to a request for comment by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, is also suing the city clerk, who was a source for the article, and the publishers of the Leader.

In his ruling, Superior Court Associate Justice James Budreau wrote that the First Amendment did not allow the defendant in a libel case to refuse to identify sources on the grounds of reporter’s privilege, but that some protection was provided. The court would “weigh the relevant public interests for each source to determine whether their identities need to be revealed.”

Budreau granted a partial motion to compel Resnek to reveal the identities of 10 out of 12 sources.

After the ruling, Resnek, who did not respond to a request for comment, agreed to reveal the names and contact information of confidential sources, unpublished notes and emails and will not object to any depositions of sources.

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