Fight over slain reporter’s files going to Nevada high court

Oct 19, 2022, 2:22 AM | Updated: 3:16 pm

FILE - Outgoing Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, center, leaves the courtroom with ...

FILE - Outgoing Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, center, leaves the courtroom with David Lopez-Negrete, a public defender, left, after his arraignment at the Regional Justice Center, on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in Las Vegas. Telles, a former Democratic elected county official, is jailed awaiting completion of the police investigation and a hearing of evidence alleging that he killed Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative journalist Jeff German. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File)

(Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A judge blocked Las Vegas police, prosecutors and defense attorneys Wednesday from accessing a slain investigative journalist’s cellphone and electronic devices over concerns about revealing the reporter’s confidential sources and notes.

Then she backed away from the case, citing an immediate appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

“I don’t think I have jurisdiction anymore,” Clark County District Judge Susan Johnson told attorneys for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, county prosecutors, defense attorneys, and lawyers representing the Las Vegas Review-Journal and dozens of media organizations. “Let’s see what the Supreme Court says.”

The judge pointed during a brief hearing to her restraining order, issued minutes earlier, and acknowledged the fast track taken on a question that all sides agree needs a state high court ruling.

Her order blocks immediate review by police of six devices that attorneys for the newspaper expect contain source names and notes compiled by reporter Jeff German before he was killed Sept. 2 in a knife attack outside his home.

Police and prosecutors want to comb the records for additional evidence that Robert “Rob” Telles, a former Democratic elected county official, fatally stabbed German in response to articles German wrote that were critical of Telles and his managerial conduct.

Telles’ court-appointed public defenders want to learn whether other people had a motive to kill German.

The police department, the Clark County district attorney’s office and Telles’ defense lawyers jointly sought the appeal.

The newspaper, backed by organizations including The Associated Press and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, maintains that police should not have the devices at all. It argues that confidential information, names and unpublished material are protected from disclosure under strict state law, federal privacy statutes and constitutional First Amendment safeguards.

Telles, 45, was Clark County public administrator, overseeing an office that handles assets of people who die without a will or family contacts. He was arrested Sept. 7 and remains jailed without bail pending a preliminary hearing on murder and other charges.

He lost his party primary for reelection in June and was stripped by a court order last month of his elected position.

Telles was suspended Wednesday from practicing law by a state high court order citing pending disciplinary proceedings against him by the State Bar of Nevada. The order noted that Telles has been charged with murder and “appears to have transferred significant funds” from his law practice trust accounts.

Authorities say surveillance video, Telles’ DNA on German’s body and evidence found at Telles’ home connect him to German’s killing.

Attorney Matthew Christian, representing the police department, said the investigation can’t be completed until detectives review all possible evidence pertinent to the case.

Johnson previously acknowledged that because it is rare for a U.S. journalist to be killed because of their work, there was little legal precedent for her to follow to allow investigators to access German’s files.

A proposal that might have had the judge appoint an independent panel to review the records collapsed because the newspaper doesn’t want Las Vegas-area investigators who may have been sources for, or the subject of, German’s work involved in the process.

German, 69, spent 44 years reporting on organized crime, government corruption, political scandals and mass shootings, first at the Las Vegas Sun and then at the Review-Journal. He was widely respected for his tenacity and confidential contacts in police, court and legal circles.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - A person shows their scan card for their personal selection numbers for a ticket for a Power...

L.B. Gilbert

$1.2 billion Powerball drawing nears after 11 weeks without a winner

A $1.2 billion Powerball jackpot will again be up for grabs Wednesday night after an 11-week stretch without a big winner

6 hours ago

FILE - A man walks through wildfire wreckage in Lahaina, Hawaii, Aug. 11, 2023. Federal authorities...

Associated Press

Cleanup from Maui fires complicated by island’s logistical challenges, cultural significance

Cleanup of areas destroyed in the Maui wildfires could end up being one of the most complex to date, federal officials said, given the island's significant cultural sites, its rich history including a royal residence and possibly remains of people who died in the disaster.

13 hours ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom at New York Supreme Court, Monday, Oct. 2, 2023...


New York judge issues limited gag order after Trump makes disparaging post about court clerk

A New York judge imposed a limited gag order on defendant Donald Trump Tuesday after the former president disparaged a key court staffer during his civil business fraud trial.

1 day ago

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks during the introduction of the integration of Microsoft Bing sea...

Suman Naishadham, Associated Press

Microsoft CEO says unfair practices by Google led to its dominance as a search engine

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Monday that unfair tactics used by Google led to its dominance as a search engine, tactics that in turn have thwarted his company’s rival program, Bing.

2 days ago

This undated photo provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Portland Field Office shows a ...

Associated Press

Man accused of kidnapping Seattle woman, kidnapping charges in separate case

A man accused of abducting a woman in Seattle, driving her hundreds of miles to his home in Oregon and locking her in a makeshift cinder block cell 

2 days ago

A person browses offerings in the Raven's Nest Treasure shop in Pike Place Market, Dec. 10, 2021, i...

Associated Press

Man who faked Native American heritage to sell his art in Seattle sentenced to probation

A Washington state man who falsely claimed Native American heritage to sell his artwork at downtown Seattle galleries was sentenced Wednesday to federal probation and community service.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Fight over slain reporter’s files going to Nevada high court