A judge told The New York Times yesterday that its failure to force jailed reported M.A. Farber to turn over his notes in a murder case will weigh heavily when he decides whether or not to lift a $5,000-a-day contempt of court fine on the paper.
Bergen County Superior Court Judge Theodure Trautwein made his comment after a day-long hearing on whether The Times had parted itself of contempt by turning over all the documents it had in its possession on the "Dr. X" murder case.
He said he would decide soon on whether or not to lift the contempt of court fine he imposed on The Times for not turning over the papers in its possession last month.
Times reporter Farber is in Bergen County jail for refusing to surrender his notes for a series he wrote on the case.
At yesterday's hearing, Tiems attorney Floyd Abrams told the court, "The New York Times has not asked Mr. Farber to turn over his notes and will not go so. We will not threaten to dismiss him. [We] will continue paying $5,000 a day rather than take these measures."
The Times said in court that it holds a joint ownership with its reporters over the notes they make for stories published in the paper. But the paper added that in subpoena cases, The Times relinquishes this ownership to the reporter.
When Abrams told Judge Trautwein that The Times would not ask Farber to turn over his notes, the judge said he would take this note into consideration when he makes his decision.