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Judge temporarily blocks search of slain RJ reporter’s devices

Updated October 5, 2022 - 4:15 pm

A judge granted a temporary restraining order on Wednesday that bars authorities from immediately searching the personal devices of slain investigative reporter Jeff German.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal filed a request for the emergency order on Tuesday, after officials asserted that they could search the devices as early as Tuesday evening.

District Judge Nadia Krall signed the temporary restraining order on Wednesday afternoon. It prevents officials from conducting a search for the next 15 days. A hearing on the matter has been set for Oct. 12.

German, 69, was found dead of stab wounds last month outside his Las Vegas home. Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, who was the subject of German’s reporting, is accused of killing the veteran journalist.

Police seized personal electronic devices that Review-Journal editors believe German used for work, including a cellphone, hard drive and multiple computers. Prosecutors and the public defender’s office now want to search those devices in connection with Telles’ criminal case.

Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said the restraining order was requested to protect the identities of German’s confidential sources and the information they provided him.

“We’re grateful that Judge Krall saw the urgency of the situation and the clear threat of irreparable harm to the Review-Journal and Jeff German’s sources,” Cook said Wednesday. “Jeff had confidential sources inside the very agencies demanding unrestricted access to his phone and computers. Bringing Jeff’s killer to justice mustn’t result in the injustice of exposing Jeff’s sources to potential retribution and damaging the RJ’s ability to report on important matters in the public interest.”

The newspaper also filed a motion in District Court on Tuesday demanding that a third party help review German’s devices, and that his information be returned to the Review-Journal following the review process.

District Attorney Steve Wolfson, Metropolitan Police Department attorney Matthew Christian and Edward Kane, Telles’ public defender, did not reply to requests for comment on Wednesday. It is not known whether authorities began searching German’s devices before the temporary restraining order was granted.

Metro’s attorneys previously have argued that Telles’ constitutional rights “take precedence over any reporter’s rights.”

The Review-Journal previously filed a motion in Las Vegas Justice Court to prevent authorities from searching the devices, but Justice of the Peace Karen Bennett-Haron said she did not have jurisdiction to hear the motion. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 43 other media organizations asked last week to file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the newspaper’s motion.

Attorneys representing the newspaper have argued that Metro’s seizure of German’s devices violated Nevada’s shield law, designed to protect journalists, and the federal Privacy Protection Act, which is designed to prevent unlawful searches of journalists.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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