Investigative Reporter Wins Dispute Over Confidential Source

October 6, 2022

On Monday, October 3, 2022, a Hampden County judge ruled that the Roman Catholic Church of Springfield cannot force firm client Larry Parnass, a journalist for the Berkshire Eagle, to disclose information that could reveal the identities of confidential sources.

Partner Jeffrey Pyle represents Parnass. In March of 2022, the Diocese of Springfield issued a subpoena for a wide range of Parnass’ notes, communications, and testimony relating to a civil suit filed in January 2021 by an unnamed Chicopee man against the diocese and eight diocese officials. The man alleges that he was raped and abused by then-Bishop Christopher Weldon and two other parish priests when he was an altar boy in the 1960s.

According to an article in the Berkshire Eagle, “The paper’s coverage . . . was possible only with the help of a source to whom Parnass promised confidentiality.”  In July, the judge ordered the scope of the subpoena narrowed, but Pyle argued in a motion to reconsider that complying with even the narrower information request would reveal one of Parnass’ sources. The Court agreed: “In light of Parnass’ affidavit stating that he cannot protect the identities of confidential sources simply by redacting their names, the court revises its order to apply only to nonconfidential sources,” Judge Karen Goodwin wrote in a ruling issued Oct. 3. also reported on the ruling. It quotes Eagle Publisher Fredric D. Rutberg, who lauded the judge’s revision. “We are pleased that the court has ensured all the confidential information that was obtained by Larry will be protected, and our confidential sources will be protected,” said Rutberg, himself a retired district court judge.”


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