A judge may present two Chicago Tribune newsmen with a difficult choice this week in a case that pits the confidentiality of a news sources against privacy rights linked to a juvenile's police record.
Circuit Court Judge William S. White has been asked to order the newsmen to reveal the source of a detailed description of 18-year-old Clifford Finley's juvenile record.
Finley is accused of shooting Ronald Schultz, 18, of Toledo, while Schutlz was visiting here. A bullet lodged in his spina cord, paralyzing his arms and legs.
If White orders the reporters, George Bliss and Phillip Wattley, to reveal their source and they refuse they could face a contempt of court charge and jail.
Under the Illinois Juvenile Code, the police records of minors under age 17 may not be disclosed publicly except by specific court order.
But a Tribune story on May 23 carried a detailed description of Finley's juvenile record that includes 16 arrests since he was age 9.
John T. Moran, chief of the appeals division of the city's public defender's office, called the Tribune's disclosure "a plain violation of the Juvenile Court Act."
The juvenile act, however, collides with another state statute that gives journalists a modified privilege against revealing the names of secret informants.
That law says no court can compel disclosure of sources by reporters unless it can be demostrated that "a specific public interest . . . would be adversely affected if the actual information sought were not disclosed."