U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Subpoenaed news reporter will not have to testify in MN murder trial

Incident Details

May 30, 2022

A Minnesota District judge quashed a subpoena on June 20, 2022, that sought testimony from KARE 11 News reporter Lou Raguse in an upcoming murder trial in Minneapolis.

According to the Star Tribune, Dan Allard, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney, filed a motion to compel Raguse to testify during the trial of Jamal Smith. Smith is accused of fatally shooting a man after an altercation on a Minneapolis highway.

Raguse did not respond to a request for comment, but his attorney, Leita Walker, confirmed to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker by email that the subpoena was initially served on or around May 30, 2022. Walker said that prosecutors filed a motion to compel after being notified that the law required them to first apply to the court before subpoenaing a journalist.

According to the Star Tribune, Raguse recorded a video interview with Smith while he was in jail in April 2022, where Smith denied having fired the fatal shot. Allard argued that Raguse’s testimony could place Smith in the vehicle during the shooting.

During a hearing on the motion, Walker argued that the prosecutor misstated or ignored law protecting journalists, and that reporters could not be compelled to reveal confidential sources or information under Minnesota state law.

Hennepin County Judge Nicole Engisch sided with Raguse in denying the motion to compel, quashing the subpoena. According to the Star Tribune, Engisch’s six-page order stated, “The court does not find that the state’s argument here outweighs Mr. Raguse’s First Amendment interest and legal privilege to avoid being compelled to testify on unpublished information gathered as part of his work as a journalist.”

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