LAS VEGAS (AP) - A federal magistrate rejected an attempt by
casino mogul Sheldon Adelson to subpoena a newspaper reporter's
testimony in a defamation suit.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen in Las Vegas ruled that
Nevada's media shield law protected Las Vegas Sun reporter Rick
Velotta from questioning under oath about stories written in 2004
about a legal dispute in Israel between Adelson and Moshe Hananel.
Hananel claimed Adelson owed him money for helping him get into the
Macau gambling market.
Leen's eight-page order, issued Friday, cited Nevada Supreme
Court rulings and "the plain language" of the state's reporter
shield law, which she said confers an "absolute privilege from
disclosure" of sources and information.
Adelson lawyer, Ryan Loosvelt of Las Vegas, did not immediately
respond Tuesday to messages seeking comment. It was unclear if he
would appeal Leen's order to Senior U.S. District Judge Edward Reed
Jr., who is presiding over the defamation suit.
Adelson filed the lawsuit Dec. 11, 2006, in U.S. District Court
in Nevada against Hananel, an employee from 1996 to 2000 of an
Adelson company, Interface Partners International Ltd. He accused
Hananel of making false statements about their relationship in
interviews with Velotta and other Las Vegas media.
In court documents, lawyers for Adelson, the majority
shareholder of Venetian hotel owner Las Vegas Sands Corp., labeled
as "absurd" Hananel's claim that he was entitled to a 12 percent
fee as a "partner" in Las Vegas Sands' multi-billion-dollar
investment in Macau. Sands has since opened two resorts in the
Cotai Strip area of the Chinese gambling enclave.
Loosvelt had said he wanted to question Velotta about matters
the attorney contended were not covered under the shield law,
including the reporter's education, experience and news gathering
practices, and news gathering practices of the Sun.
Leen quashed the subpoena to depose Velotta, calling that effort
"merely an attempt to obtain indirectly what Adelson may not
obtain directly" under the state shield law.
Sun Managing Editor Mike Kelley hailed the decision as "the
right ruling in this case."
Information from: Las Vegas Sun, http://www.lasvegassun.com
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)