By: Ellis S.B. No. 604
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
relating to a qualified privilege of a journalist not to testify.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Subchapter B, Chapter 22, Civil Practice and
Remedies Code, is amended by adding Section 22.012 to read as
Sec. 22.012. JOURNALIST'S TESTIMONIAL PRIVILEGE. (a) In
(1) "Journalist" means a person, or an employee,
independent contractor, or agent of that person, engaged in the
business of gathering, compiling, writing, editing, photographing,
recording, or processing information for dissemination by any news
(2) "News medium" means a person who in the ordinary
course of business publishes, broadcasts, or otherwise
disseminates news by print, television, radio, or other electronic
means accessible to the public.
(3) "Official proceeding" means any type of
administrative, executive, legislative, or judicial proceeding
that may be conducted before a public servant.
(4) "Public servant" means a person elected, selected,
appointed, employed, or otherwise designated as one of the
following, even if the person has not yet qualified for office or
assumed the person's duties:
(A) an officer, employee, or agent of government;
(B) a juror or grand juror;
(C) an arbitrator, referee, or other person who
is authorized by law or private written agreement to hear or
determine a cause or controversy;
(D) an attorney at law or notary public when
participating in the performance of a governmental function; or
(E) a person who is performing a governmental
function under a claim of right although the person is not legally
qualified to do so.
(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c), a journalist may
not be compelled to disclose in an official proceeding:
(1) any confidential or nonconfidential information,
document, or item obtained or prepared while acting as a
(2) the source of any information, document, or item
described by Subdivision (1).
(c) A journalist may be compelled to disclose any
information, document, or item obtained while acting as a
journalist if the person seeking the testimony or production
establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the testimony
or production sought:
(1) is relevant and material to the proper
administration of the official proceeding for which the testimony
or production is sought;
(2) is essential to the maintenance of a claim or
defense of the person seeking the testimony or production; and
(3) cannot be obtained from alternate sources.
(d) An order to compel testimony or production as to which a
journalist has asserted a privilege under this section may be
issued only after notice to the journalist and a hearing. The order
must include clear and specific findings as to the showing made by
the person seeking the testimony or production.
(e) Notwithstanding Subsection (b), a journalist does not
have a privilege against disclosure of any information, document,
or item obtained as a result of the journalist's eyewitness
observation of criminal or tortious conduct, including any physical
evidence or visual or audio recording of the observed conduct.
SECTION 2. Chapter 38, Code of Criminal Procedure, is
amended by adding Article 38.11 to read as follows:
Art. 38.11. JOURNALIST'S TESTIMONIAL PRIVILEGE. Section
22.012, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, applies to a criminal
SECTION 3. This Act applies only to a subpoena issued or
other attempt made to obtain any information, documents, or items
from a journalist on or after the effective date of this Act.
SECTION 4. This Act takes effect September 1, 2005.