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Prosecutors continue push to see slain reporter’s confidential information

Updated April 9, 2024 - 7:48 pm

Prosecutors are pushing for the Las Vegas Review-Journal to reveal more details about confidential information on slain investigative reporter Jeff German’s cellphone, according to recently filed court documents.

Robert Telles, the former elected official awaiting trial in German’s slaying, briefly appeared in court Tuesday.

Telles is scheduled for trial on a murder charge in August. Meanwhile, prosecutors and investigators with the Metropolitan Police Department filed court documents late last month to obtain information from German’s cellphone, which was seized by police after he was killed.

Prosecutors have accused Telles, the ousted Clark County public administrator, of fatally stabbing German, 69, in September 2022 over articles the reporter had written about Telles’ conduct as an elected official. Last month, Telles’ murder trial was postponed after prosecutors argued they want access to information on German’s personal devices, although Telles maintained he wanted the trial to move forward.

The Review-Journal entered a lengthy legal fight to prevent officials from searching German’s devices, which culminated in the Nevada Supreme Court ruling in October that the state’s shield law, which protects journalists from forcibly revealing sources, continues to apply to German’s devices after his death. Review-Journal employees have since began searching through German’s devices to identify information that could be confidential.

Telles has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and has alleged he was framed for German’s murder. Prosecutors have pointed to “overwhelming” evidence against Telles, including his DNA that was discovered underneath German’s fingernails.

On Tuesday, District Judge Michelle Leavitt postponed a hearing to allow the Clark County district attorney’s office to reply to a motion filed by the Review-Journal the day prior.

On March 28, prosecutors and police asked Leavitt to compel the Review-Journal to provide more details about the information on German’s cellphone, while also arguing that the judge should determine that the newspaper waived its claim to privileged information on the phone.

Prosecutors also argued that the judge should set a schedule for the Review-Journal to continue searching the devices.

“As for the Call Data, the time has passed, and any assertions of privilege are waived,” prosecutors wrote in the court filing. “A schedule is needed, and it is past time for LVRJ to provide non-privileged materials from the phone.”

The news organization disputed that it has waived its privilege to information on German’s phone and called the state’s filing the “latest example of wasteful, harassing, and entirely unnecessary over-litigation” in the dispute over German’s devices, according to a motion filed Monday.

The state is asking the newspaper to give more details about any potentially confidential information, including more detailed descriptions of German’s sources and descriptions of stories “that would have been unfavorable to a particular person, giving that person a motivation equal to Telles’ to murder Mr. German,” the Review-Journal argued in court filings.

“It is simply impossible to grant the State and Metro’s motion and maintain the Review-Journal’s rights to assert its privileges in this case,” the newspaper’s attorneys wrote.

The Review-Journal’s attorneys also indicated they were prepared to provide more information to prosecutors before the state’s motion was filed on March 28.

“The rash and rushed filing of this Motion, rather than permitting the back and forth conferral process to play out, is frankly concerning,” the newspaper wrote in Monday’s motion.

Leavitt scheduled another hearing on April 23.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240.

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