Subpoenaed on Tuesday by O.J. Simpson’s defense team, The Spokesman-Review agreed to turn over photographs and a taped interview with homicide detective Mark Fuhrman.
But not until the Simpson lawyers get a Washington state judge’s order and show that the newspaper’s information is necessary to Simpson’s defense.
Like all states, California subpoenas cannot be used to obtain information or testimony from outside the state, said newspaper attorney Duane Swinton.
Last January, Fuhrman tangled with a Spokesman Review photographer after a brief interview at Spokane International Airport.
Fuhrman was visiting the area on a house-hunting trip to Sandpoint.
Simpson attorney F. Lee Bailey called the newspaper Saturday and spoke with reporter Bill Morlin, 48, about obtaining the photos of the fracas.
In addition, he wants a tape of Morlin’s interview with Furhman before the scuffle.
The reporter told Bailey that subpoenas would be required.
Simpson co-counsel Carl Douglas faxed the newspaper two subpoenas Tuesday for all 26 photographs and a 10-minute taped interview.
Simpson’s attorneys could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The detective is regarded as a key witness because he says he found a bloody glove at Simpson’s Brentwood estate. Defense attorneys have tried to paint Fuhrman, 42, as a racist, rogue cop who planted the evidence.
While preparing to board a plane, Fuhrman answered Morlin’s questions, saying the case had no racial overtones and that Simpson was simply a “sloppy” killer. The detective also talked about his impending retirement and his love of the outdoors.
He later objected to being photographed and struck Spokesman-Review staff member Dan McComb, 28, with a metal briefcase and ripped four buttons from his shirt.
Cochran’s subpoenas say the taped interview and photographs are crucial to Simpson’s defense.Editor Chris Peck said the newspaper is trying to
strike a delicate balance between complying with the law and maintaining the freedom to operate without becoming an investigative arm of court combatants.
But The Spokesman-Review wants the same courtesy and diligence afforded California media organizations, Swinton said.Reporters have to comply with court orders if their
material is relevant, has a compelling public interest and can’t be obtained elsewhere, said Morlin, who handles freedom of information issues for the regional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
“It troubles me that an increasing number of reporters and their information are being subpoenaed,” Morlin said, “but this case clearly involves a public figure in a high-profile case.
“We are not going to voluntarily give anything up, but there is nothing confidential in the material.”