Ruling Probable Today

Annette Buchanan and Arthur Johsnon, her attorney, on their way to the Lane County Courthouse in June 1966. This photo was taken by Mike Conard, whom Buchanan later married. (Emerald Archive Photo).


Emerald Editor

Arthur Johnson, attorney for Annette Buchanan, and Lane County District Attorney William Frye will make their final arguments before Circuit Judge Edward Leavy today.

Leavy will then decide whether Miss Buchanan is in contempt of court for refusing to reveal the names of five students she interviewed for an Emerald story on marijuana use on the campus.

She refused to reveal the names despite a court order issued by Leavy June 13 directing her to answer questions put by Frye and the Lane County Grand Jury.

The maximum penalty for contempt is a $300 fine and six months in jail. The trial reconvenes at 10 a.m.

Johnson raised the Constitutional issue of freedom of the press, the tradition of journalists not revealing confidential sources, the question of whether Frye harassed Miss Buchanan, and circumstances surrounding a press release which Frye issued.

Judge Leavy rejected much of Johnson’s evidence but did admit, among other things, the transcript of the second half of Miss Buchanan’s original testimony before the Grand Jury. This testimony came after she refused to reveal the names for the first time on June 3.


According to the transcript one of the questions Frye asked Miss Buchanan was “If your roommate were sexually assaulted and murdered . . . and persons responsible came to you and said ‘I will tell you something very important, (a) very interesting story, if you promise not to use my name I will tell you about this murder.’ Of course, out of curiosity you wanted to hear it, suppose you agreed then this person told you ‘I did it’ (and) how he did it. Would you feel compelled not to disclose his name on the principles you (mention)?”

The transcript said Miss Buchanan’s response was “I am not sure it is a fair question.”

Also included in the transcript:

“Mr. Frye: I am just asking your opinion.”

“Miss Buchanan: I don’t know.”

“Mr. Frye: What is your own opinion about the statement that these students made to you in this article here?”

“Mr. Frye: . . . You know what (the) pot laws are?”

“Miss Buchanan: Yes.”

“Mr. Frye: You think they’re valid?”

“Miss Buchanan: I don’t think this applies at all.”


“Mr. Frye: Do you think the Grand Jury has any right to inquire about this subject? I am trying to find out what your personal philosophy is, whether someone like you is not a matter these public officials should be concerned about? . . .”

“. . . Mr. Frye: Have you offered to co-operate in every way you could to disclose their names?

“Miss Buchanan: Like what?”

“Mr. Frye: I don’t know. Anything.”

“Miss Buchanan: Nobody asked me to co-operate. They just subpoenaed me.”

According to the transcript, Frye also asked her about an Emerald editorial which he said criticized the Student Conduct Committee for putting restrictions on LSD in the Conduct Code. He asked if she wrote the editorial, if she agreed with it, and she said she did.

The transcript also says Frye asked Miss Buchanan whether she thought “the commission of felony should have any bearing on whether a person is able to attend University.”


Frye’s case Monday took about five minutes. It consisted only of a reading of the transcript of the June 15 Grand Jury hearing in which Miss Buchanan refused to answer questions about the names of the five students, where the interview took place or how it was set up.

Johnson took the rest of the day.

He called a number of journalists to the stand—Ho Blonk, managing editor of the Wenatchee Daily World and chairman of the freedom of information committee of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association; Bob Chandler, editor for the Bend Bulletin and a member of the national member of the national board of Sigma Delta Chi, a professional journalism honorary; Dean John L. Hulteng of the University’s School of Journalism; Stephen Still, managing editor of the Oakland, Calif. Tribune; William Wasmann, managing editor of the Eugene Register-Guard; and Curt Osterman, associate news editor of KATU-TV in Portland.


Johnson questioned them on whether it was normal for newspapermen to use confidential sources, whether curbing the use of anonymous sources would hurt the efforts of the press to inform the public, whether there is a tradition in journalism of protecting confidential sources, whether revealing confidential sources would harm a journalist’s career.

All of them answered yes to all those questions.

Frye questioned several of these witnesses on whether the traditions and canons of ethics of journalism would require them to withhold sources of information, even in spite of a court order.

Most of them said it would violate tradition to reveal the sources, although some of them said they could not cite specific canons of ethics or other written documents to back up the tradition.

Judge Leavy ruled several of Johnson’s questions out of order, although the attorney was still allowed to ask them as an “offer of proof.”

Frye maintained that the only question before the court was whether Miss Buchanan violated a court order.

Johson argued several times that larger questions of freedom of the press entered into the case.

“You can’t have a free press if you don’t think you have the freedom of information,” Johnson said.

He argued that a ruling against Miss Buchanan “will tell the working press that if they are to use anonymous sources that they will either have to break that promise or be punished for contempt.”

He said  curbing her right to get information from anonymous sources would “curb the right of all reporters to obtain information in this way and the right of the public to learn that information.”

He also argued that Frye had presented no evidence that the information was “essential to the maintenance of justice” or that it could not be gained through other sources.

Johnson put Miss Buchanan on the stand for a brief period only.

She reiterated the five points on which she had refused to reveal the names of the students she interviewed: that it would breach the canons of ethics of her profession, that it would violate constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press and speech, that it would violate her privileges as an employee of the state of Oregon, that the inquiry was beyond the proper scope of the Grand Jury, and that she was not allowed to have an attorney present with her in the hearings.

Johson also attempted to introduce into evidence editions of the Emerald containing the paper’s endorsement of Frye’s opponent for the Democratic nomination for Fourth District Congressman, two columns which attacked Frye during the campaign, and Frye’s response to those columns.

Again Leavy ruled them out of order.

In rebuttal Frye put Miss Buchanan back on the stand.

He asked whether she volunteered the other of anonymity or whether the students asked it, whether she got the information because of the anonymity, and whether any of the students told her how to testify. Leavy rulled all those questions out of order.

She said she arranged to get the students together and agreed to protect her sources “to the best of my ability.”

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