St. Louis Public Radio subpoena dropped

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The circuit attorney for St. Louis said Wednesday that she will drop a subpoena issued to St. Louis Public Radio that had sought audio and video recorded by station reporters during a contentious City Hall meeting in January.

In a statement about the withdrawn subpoena, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said: “The Circuit Attorney’s Office has been communicating with St. Louis Public Radio regarding the materials they had in their possession related to the January 28th meeting. The office has determined those materials do not enhance our investigation. Therefore, we intend to withdraw our subpoena to St. Louis Public Radio related to this incident.”

She also noted that other media outlets that received subpoenas for information regarding the incident provided “valuable audio tape, video tape, photographs and other materials related to the meeting.”

Earlier this month, St. Louis Public Radio was mulling its response to the subpoena, and its lawyers were in talks with the circuit attorney’s office. At the time, Tim Eby, St. Louis Public Radio g.m., told Current that “often a news organization is the last resort to try to collect information for an investigation.” But in this case, he said, the subpoena appeared to be filed early in the investigation and was a “real challenge in terms of a free press.”

The station revealed that the subpoena had been issued, despite a request from the circuit attorney not to do so. In an editorial, St. Louis Public Radio Editor Margaret Wolf Freivogel called the subpoena “disturbing,” adding: “When public interests are at stake, then public scrutiny and debate are essential. It’s unreasonable to take action that could impinge on the ability of news organizations to serve the public, then ask that the public be kept in the dark.”

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