Baker, et al. v. Goldman Sachs & Co., No. 11-1591 (2d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs appealed from Judge Jones's quashing of a subpoena directed to Jesse Eisinger, a former Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter, based on New York's journalists' Shield Law, New York Civil Rights Law 79-h. At issue was the qualified privilege under the Shield Law with regard to news that was both unpublished and not obtained under a promise of confidentiality. The underlying action in this matter was brought by plaintiffs against Goldman Sachs where plaintiffs' claims arose out of Goldman's service as plaintiffs' financial advisor in a sale of their company. Plaintiffs sought to depose Eisinger regarding two articles published in the WSJ. The district court granted Eisinger's motion to quash, holding that: (i) Eisinger, as a journalist, could claim the Shield Law's protection; (i) the information sought was covered by the Shield Law; and (iii) plaintiffs failed to overcome the privilege by establishing through "clear and convincing evidence" that the testimony "would be critical and relevant" to the maintenance of their claim. The district court noted that the testimony "invariably require[d] disclosure of the unpublished details of the newsgathering process." The court affirmed and held that the description of the oral argument and the findings of the district court rendered it virtually self-evident that the Shield Law would protect Eisinger from compelled testimony.