M. A. Farber: Difference between revisions

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'''Myron A. Farber''' (born c. 1938) is an [[United States|American]] newspaper reporter for ''[[The New York Times]]'', whose investigations into the deaths of several patients at an [[Oradell, New Jersey]] hospital led to the murder trial of Dr. [[Mario Jascalevich]], a physician at the hospital who was alleged to have used a powerful muscle relaxant in what became known as the "Dr. X" case. After refusing to turn over notes from his investigation in response to a subpoena from the defense attorney in the case, Farber was jailed for contempt and the newspaper fined, ending up spending 40 days in jail with fines of $285,000 assessed. Appealed to the [[Supreme Court of the United States]], the case set a precedent for the limitations of [[shield laws in the United States]].
 
=="Dr. X" case==
===Initial investigation===
Farber's initial involvement in what would become known as the Dr. X case began in June 1975 when the paper received a letter from a woman claiming that as many as 40 patients had been murdered at a hospital by its chief surgeon. The letter handed to him offered no information as to where the alleged murders had occurred or who the murder was, if there was anything at all to the letter.<ref name=Smithsonian>Farber, Myron. [http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/On_Not_Naming_Names.html "On Not Naming Names "], ''[[Smithsonian]]'', September 2005. Accessed October 19, 2009.</ref>
 
Farber pursued the case by speaking with someone in the forensic toxicology field who was able to recall a case at Riverdell Hospital, a private medical facility that had since closed. Further investigation led to the identification of Dr. Mario Jascalevich as the hospital's chief surgeon. While Jascalevich's surgical patients routinely survived, those of a new doctor were dying at a significantly high rate. This surgeon, together with directors of the hospital, open Jascalevich's locker on October 31, 1966 and found 18 near empty vials of [[curare]], a powerful muscle relaxant that could case death if not administered in conjunction with artificial respiration.<ref name=Smithsonian/>
 
===Trial and jail===
Attorney [[Raymond A. Brown]] blamed other doctors at the hospital of framing Jascalevich to cover up their own ineptitude and charged that Farber had conspired with prosecutors to advance their respective careers by pointing the finger of blame at Jascalevich.<ref>Berger, Joseph. [http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/12/nyregion/12brown.html "Raymond A. Brown, Civil Rights Lawyer, Dies at 94"], ''[[The New York Times]]'', October 11, 2009. Accessed October 12, 2009.</ref> After Brown subpoenaed the reporter,
Farber testified in the case but cited the [[First Amendment of the United States Constitution]] when he refused to turn over thousands of pages of the reporter's notes that the defense had requested, citing a compelling right to protect the identity of the sources used in the articles from individuals who had spoken to him with the expectation that their confidence would be maintained.<ref name=Trautwein>Corcoran, David. [http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/02/nyregion/theodore-trautwein-judge-in-landmark-press-case-dies-at-80.html "Theodore Trautwein, Judge in Landmark Press Case, Dies at 80"], ''[[The New York Times]]'', September 2, 2000. Accessed October 13, 2009.</ref> ''[[Time (magazine)|Time]]'' magazine called the deadlock "a head-on collision between the First and [[Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution|Sixth Amendment]]s", citing the conflict between the reporter's and newspaper's right of [[Freedom of the Press]] and the defendant's [[Right to a fair trial]].<ref>Staff. [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,948246,00.html "Press: Piercing a Newsman's Shield"], [[Time (magazine)]]'', August 7, 1978. Accessed October 14, 2009.</ref> Trial judge William J. Arnold had Judge [[Theodore Trautwein]] address the issues related to the release of the papers in his role as as assignment judge for all Bergen County courts. In July 1978, Trautwein sentenced Farber to six months in jail and assessed fines of $5,000 each day to ''The Times'', saying that Farber had chosen placing "your privilege and your concept of your constitutional rights above the rights of the people of this state and this defendant"<ref name=Trautwein/>