Magnolia Group, LLC v. O'Dwyer Realty, LLC et al
ORDER denying 67 Motion to Quash; denying 67 Motion for Protective Order. Signed by Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker on March 25, 2014. (King, Steve)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
MAGNOLIA GROUP, LLC
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:13CV317-HSO-RHW
O'DWYER REALTY, LLC et al
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO QUASH AND/OR
MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER
Before the Court is non-party Douglas Handshoe's pro se  Motion to Quash and/or
Motion for Protective Order. In his motion, Handshoe invokes the journalist's qualified privilege
in an effort to prevent disclosure of certain communications requested as part of a Rule 30(b)(6)
deposition. On February 6, 2014, Defendant Mary Bunch filed a notice to take the Rule 30(b)(6)
deposition of Plaintiff Magnolia Group, LLC. In conjunction with the deposition, Defendant
requested the disclosure of communications among Douglas Handshoe/Slabbed.org and
Magnolia Group, Keith Aschliman or William Washburn. Of special relevance to the instant
motion under consideration, Defendant Bunch does not seek the requested information from
Handshoe or Slabbed.org. Rather, Handshoe seeks to prevent Magnolia Group from disclosing
what he asserts are confidential communications.
Handshoe's invocation of the journalist's privilege is misplaced. The privilege is intended
to shield a reporter from being required to disclose the identity of persons who have imparted
information to him or her in confidence. In re Selcraig, 705 F.2d 789, 792 (5th Cir. 1983). The
Fifth Circuit has rejected a broad privilege in journalists' non-confidential work product. See
United States v. Smith, 135 F.3d 963, 968-71 (5th Cir. 1998). The privilege is designed to limit
"the circumstances in which litigants may obtain access to press files through court-ordered
discovery." Chevron Corp. v. Belinger, 629 F.3d 297, 307-08 (2d Cir. 2011).
In the instant case, Defendant Bunch is not asking Handshoe to disclose confidential
information or the identity of confidential sources. In fact, Defendant Bunch has not requested
any disclosures whatsoever from Handshoe or Slabbed.org. Rather, Defendant Bunch's
discovery requests are directed at Plaintiff Magnolia Group, who has not invoked the journalist's
qualified privilege regarding the requested information. If Magnolia Group possesses
information regarding communications between itself and Handshoe or Slabbed.org, the
information cannot be withheld based on Handshoe's assertion of a journalist's privilege. See
Reporters Committee for Freedom of Press v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., 593 F.2d 1030, 1050
(D.C. Cir. 1978)(holding that journalists "have no right to resist good faith subpoenas duces
tecum directed at a third-party's business records"). In fact by seeking information from
Magnolia Group rather than directly from Handshoe, Defendant is following the proper
procedure because it seeks the information through other available reasonable means. See In re
Selcraig, 705 F.2d at 792. The Court finds that Handshoe's attempt to prevent a third party from
disclosing information based on Handshoe's reporter's privilege exceeds the limited scope of the
qualified journalist's privilege.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the  Motion is DENIED.
SO ORDERED, this the 25th day of March, 2014.
Robert H. Walker
ROBERT H. WALKER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?