The Akron Bar Association has filed a motion with the Ohio Supreme Court laying out the reasons the justices should find an Akron Beacon Journal reporter in contempt of court.
M.L. Schultze of member station WKSU in Kent reports.
The bar association insists it is not harassing the reporter, Phil Trexler. It says it simply wants him obey its subpoena, and testify and answer questions under oath about the accuracy of a story he wrote.
That accuracy is key to a dispute between a Summit County judge and a lawyer whose 80-year-old client was arrested after he failed to appear for a hearing in a civil case. Trexler’s story quoted the lawyer saying he had never been notified of the hearing nor received the arrest warrants for his client.
The judge in that civil case said the lawyer was disparaging him and took a complaint for disciplinary action to the bar association.
The lawyer said he was partially misquoted. And the bar association says it needs to question Trexler about that – and that written statement by Trexler verifying the accuracy of his story is not enough.
The Beacon Journal has challenged the subpoena, saying forcing a reporter to undergo cross-examination by a quasi-judicial body is a dangerous precedent. But the bar association says its job – disciplining lawyers and upholding the integrity of the legal system – is “of at least as much public importance as civil proceedings.” It accuses Trexler of a “baseless refusal” to testify. It also calls the Beacon Journal’s attitude “arrogant and insulting” to the court.