U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Reporter subpoenaed in Staten Island assault case

Incident Details

Date of Incident
March 24, 2023
Location
New York, New York

Subpoena/Legal Order

Legal Orders
Legal Order Target
Journalist
March 24, 2023

Reporter Maura Grunlund of the Staten Island Advance newspaper was subpoenaed on March 24, 2023, to testify on conversations with the victim of an assault. By the time the criminal trial ended on April 4, the subpoena had been quashed.

Grunlund reported on a January 2019 attack on Beatrice Kaliku, a resident of New York City borough Staten Island. Police later arrested Linden Beaton for the attack.

Beaton’s attorney subpoenaed Grunlund to testify about statements Kaliku had made about the height of her attacker, attempting to show inconsistencies with Kaliku’s later claims.

According to an undated excerpt of the hearing transcript made available by the Media Law Resource Center, Grunlund’s attorney, Thomas Sullivan of Ballard Spahr, moved to quash the subpoena.

Sullivan argued that the subpoena was not properly served, but also that Grunlund was protected from having to testify under both New York’s reporter shield law and Article 1, Section 8, of the state constitution, a qualified privilege that protects disclosure of information gleaned from newsgathering.

“If every time a newspaper reporter wrote about a criminal case they were called into court to testify,” Sullivan said, “it would be a strong disincentive for the press to do that reporting.”

The judge agreed, ruling to quash the subpoena. Neither Grunlund nor Sullivan responded to requests for comment regarding the subpoena.

Beaton, who had been convicted in 2022 for the kidnapping, rape and murder of another woman a few days after Kaliku’s attack, was ultimately found guilty of assaulting Kaliku and was sentenced on April 25.

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