STAMFORD, Conn. - A Superior Court judge denied a prosecution motion yesterday that would have forced a reporter to testify at the trial of the man alleged to be the Dinnertime Bandit.
Prosecutor Joseph Valdes had argued that Associated Press reporter John Christoffersen's testimony and notes from a February jailhouse interview with Alan Golder were needed to prove that Golder is guilty of 10 felonies, including kidnapping, larceny, and burglary. Golder has pleaded not guilty.
The subpoena was a test of Connecticut's 2006 shield law, which was designed to protect reporters. Under the law, prosecutors can force a reporter to testify only if they convince a judge that the journalist holds information critical to their case, that the information can be obtained from no other source, and that there is an overriding public interest.
Judge John Kavanewsky Jr. said he will give the reasons for his denial in a written decision that he will release later.
Attorney David Schulz, who represented Christoffersen, said the ruling should reassure reporters that the shield law works.
"It's an important affirmation that reporters are not readily to be called to trial," he said.
Messages seeking comment were left for Valdes.
Golder is accused of a series of burglaries in 1996 and 1997 at homes in Greenwich and Darien. Police say he scaled mansion walls wearing a black ninja-type suit and hood, slipping through second-floor windows during dinnertime while alarms were off and stealing precious jewels and property valued at $1 million.
The Connecticut thefts began three months after Golder - a longtime burglar who stole from the homes of celebrities, including Johnny Carson - was released from prison on parole. He fled the country in 1997 and lived in Europe before being arrested in Belgium in 2006 and being extradited to Connecticut, where he is being held pending his trial.
Howard Ehring, Golder's public defender, also had opposed the motion, calling it "a fishing expedition."
Golder's trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 12.