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Researchers, Terrorists, and Subpoenas

Sheri Qualters has this article in the NLJ (free reg. required):

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has rejected the claims of two researchers seeking to quash subpoenas issued to Boston College by the U.S. government on behalf of British authorities. The United Kingdom wants interview materials of a former Irish Republican Army member as part of its investigation of a kidnapping and murder.
On July 6, a First Circuit panel affirmed district court rulings that rejected the claims of the two researchers: Ed Moloney, who directs the college's Belfast Project, and Anthony McIntyre, a project researcher and former Irish Republican Army member. The Belfast Project is an oral history project of people involved in political organizations associated with the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland that started in 1969.

The appeals court found that the researchers did not have a private right of action under a mutual legal assistance treaty between the U.S. and U.K. governments. Also, relying on the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court case Branzburg v. Hayes, it rejected the researchers' claim of a First Amendment privilege: "[T]he fact that disclosure of the materials sought by a subpoena in criminal proceedings would result in the breaking of a promise of confidentiality by reporters is not by itself a legally cognizable First Amendment or common law injury....If the reporters' interests were insufficient in Branzburg, the academic researchers' interests necessarily are insufficient here."
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Chief Judge Sandra Lynch wrote the opinion in the case, captioned In Re Request from the United Kingdom Pursuant to the Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Kingdom on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters in the Matter of Dolours Price. She was joined by Judge Michael Boudin. Judge Juan Torruella filed a concurring opinion.

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