WASHINGTON -- Time magazine is considering turning over to federal prosecutors notes from a reporter who says he will go to jail rather than divulge sources about the leak of an undercover CIA officer's name.
The possibility emerged yesterday as reporters Matthew Cooper of Time and Judith Miller of The New York Times defied a judge who found them in contempt last October for refusing to disclose their sources in the leak of the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the reporters' appeal. US District Judge Thomas Hogan reluctantly agreed to hold a hearing next Wednesday to consider last-ditch arguments from lawyers for the reporters on why they should not be sent to jail.
The judge expressed skepticism that any new arguments would change his mind.
''It's curiouser and curiouser; I don't understand" why the reporters are asking for more time, Hogan said.
Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, the US attorney in Chicago, has been investigating who in the Bush administration leaked Plame's identity days after her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, publicly undercut the president's rationale for invading Iraq.
Time magazine's lawyers revealed that the company is considering turning over documents sought by the grand jury, a step that Cooper said he hopes the magazine does not take. Fitzgerald said that the documents are Cooper's notes of his interviews.
''On balance, I think I'd prefer they not turn over the documents but Time can make that decision for itself," Cooper said outside the courthouse.
Theodore Boutrous, an attorney representing Time magazine, told the judge, ''We don't want to reargue this case."
The magazine hopes to ''avoid this crisis and journalists going to jail," Boutrous added.
Robert Bennett, representing Miller, told the judge in asking for more time that ''it's a big step to put two people in jail who have committed no crimes."
The grand jury investigating the leak expires in October and the reporters, if in jail, would be freed at that time.