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Protocol for searching slain reporter’s devices sent back to District Court

Updated March 30, 2023 - 9:43 pm

The Nevada Supreme Court is asking a lower court to decide on a protocol for authorities to review the personal devices of Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German that were seized after his killing in September.

Former Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles has been charged with murder, and prosecutors have accused him of killing German outside his home in September over articles the reporter wrote about his conduct as an elected official. After German’s killing, police seized his cellphone from his body and personal devices from his home, which could contain information about his confidential sources.

The Review-Journal first filed court documents to prevent a search of the devices in September, and has argued that the information on the devices is protected by Nevada’s shield law.

Appeals in the case have been before the Supreme Court since October, following a preliminary injunction granted by District Judge Susan Johnson that has prevented officials from searching the devices. Johnson has indicated that she was inclined to establish what is known as a “taint team,” made up of “trusted Metro high-ups” to search through the devices.

The Review-Journal has proposed a protocol in which a former federal judge would review the devices with David Roger, a former district attorney who serves as the Las Vegas Police Protective Association’s general counsel. The newspaper has opposed anyone from Metro or the district attorney’s office searching through German’s information.

In an order filed Tuesday, the Supreme Court granted Metro’s motion to move the case back to District Court so that the lower court can determine a protocol to search the devices.

“Remanding for the District Dourt to do so will not unnecessarily delay appellate resolution but will allow the court to substantively decide the issues and detail how the searches will proceed,” according to the order.

In January, District Judge Michelle Leavitt denied a motion from the Review-Journal calling for sanctions against Metro over how investigators searched German’s cellphone. Leavitt also said in the hearing that she would be in favor of establishing a protocol to search German’s devices.

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

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