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RJ agrees to turn over most data on slain reporter’s phone

Updated May 2, 2024 - 8:21 pm

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has agreed to give prosecutors, police and defense attorneys the majority of data on slain investigative reporter Jeff German’s phone.

“We’ve reached an understanding,” attorney David Chesnoff, one of the lawyers representing the Review-Journal, said during a court hearing Thursday morning.

Police seized German’s cellphone, four computers and an external hard drive from his home after he was killed in September 2022. Prosecutors have accused former Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles of fatally stabbing German, 69, over articles the reporter had written about Telles’ conduct as an elected official.

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. Employees at the newspaper have since been searching German’s devices to identify information that could be confidential.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Hamner told the judge on Thursday the Review-Journal is expected to turn over every file from German’s phone that employees have not deemed confidential.

There are about 5,500 items on the phone the Review-Journal believes are confidential, but the newspaper is expected to voluntarily release about 1,200 of those items to prosecutors.

Any further disputes over potentially confidential information ultimately could be reviewed by District Judge Michelle Leavitt, Hamner said.

Attorney Ashley Kissinger, who is representing the Review-Journal, said the news organization intends to turn over information falling into categories that prosecutors believe are “relevant to the criminal case.”

“It sounds like they will not be asserting a privilege to the vast majority of those items,” Hamner said.

Two more devices will be searched by Review-Journal employees, but attorneys have agreed that the remaining three devices are so old they will likely not need to be searched for information relevant to the murder investigation.

Leavitt said Thursday that it appears attorneys are on track to begin Telles’ trial in August.

“It sounds like it’s moving in the right direction, and there’s a feasible timeline now,” said Michael Horvath, one of Telles’ attorneys. “Our client is looking forward to the August date that we’re sticking to.”

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

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

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