Game of Shadows Authors Sentenced to 18 Months, Appeal To Follow
Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, the authors of Game of Shadows, were sentenced to 18 months in prison for not testifying before the grand jury on August 15. The 18 months represents the length of a typical grand jury term. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White rejected the reporters’ request for a lesser penalty such as a fine, or house arrest. He stated in court that prison time would most likely compel them to divulge their source of the BALCO grand jury transcripts.
“The court is hopeful that perhaps they’ll reconsider their position when faced with the reality of incarceration,” White said.
In August, White ruled his hands were tied by a 1972 Supreme Court precedent that said no one, journalists included, could refuse to testify before a federal grand jury. Both sides agreed to stay Thursday’s ruling pending an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Williams and Fainaru-Wada won’t have to report to prison pending their appeal.
From Williams’ statement in court:
“Finally, they demand that I betray our First Amendment, which I have tried to serve. I have been taught the First Amendment guarantees the people not only the right to voice their opinions about our government, but also the right to inquire into the workings of the government, and to have a Free Press that will inquire into the government’s workings on their behalf.”
“And now we have reached a time in our country when the prosecutors say they have the power whenever they choose to subpoena reporters and make them government witnesses, and that they are going to exercise that power. Judge, I despair for our Free Press if we go very far down this road. Whistleblowers won’t come forward. Injustices will never see the light of day. Our people will be less informed and worse off.”
From Fainaru-Wada’s statement in court:
“A wide range of Americans – from the parents of young men who committed suicide after taking steroids to the President of the United States – have told us we performed a public service..”
“..Sometimes, the press’s watchdog role requires the judicious use of confidential sources. Some stories simply cannot – and would not – be told without people providing information under the promise of anonymity. If those stories cannot be told because reporters fear being jailed or whistleblowers fear being exposed, the public interest will be irrevocably compromised.”