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"Shield law" apparently used for the first time in raw milk case

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin’s two-year-old “shield law” has apparently been used for the first time.

The law protects news reporters from having to disclose their sources except in rare and specific incidents.

The state Justice Department asked a judge to subpoena reporters from the Madison Capital Times and two Madison TV stations, and testify on how they obtained their information about an Amish farmer who’s fighting charges that he illegally sold raw milk.

Sauk County Circuit Judge Guy Reynolds refused to subpoena the reporters, and the farmer – Vernon Hershberger of Loganville – is scheduled to go on trial in January. He’s charged with four misdemeanors for allegedly violating his dairy license by selling raw milk to customers.

The reporters’ lawyers said the Justice Department could get the same information the journalists obtained from people who went to Hershberger’s shop.

Bill Lueders of the state’s Freedom of Information Council says it’s believed to be the first time the shield law was used since former Governor Jim Doyle signed it into law in 2010. 

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