February 13, 2007
New York Times reporter refuses to appear in Zyprexa case: AP
The New York Times declined the request of a federal judge to have reporter Alex Berenson appear in court and discuss how he obtained documents related to Eli Lilly’s anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa, the Associated Press reported.
In a letter to Judge Jack Weinstein of the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, New York Times attorney George Freeman wrote that as a matter of “long-held principle,” the company believed it would be “inappropriate” to discuss the newspaper’s newsgathering efforts or editorial judgments.
“We guard quite zealously our role as a member of a free and independent press and believe quite passionately that, consistent with the principles embodied in the First Amendment, it is not the role of the newspaper or its reporters to submit to cross-examination about such matters even where it may otherwise serve our particular interests in a particular case to do so,” Freeman wrote.
Berenson wrote a number of articles late last year saying Lilly downplayed the risks of its anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa and marketed it for unapproved uses, charges Lilly has denied.
Weinstein had invited Berenson to voluntarily appear in court and discuss testimony that the judge said implicated him in a “conspiracy” to obtain documents, which had been placed under seal by the court.
Weinstein wrote in a court filing that he was requesting Berenson to appear voluntarily after hearing testimony from Alaska-based attorney James Gottstein, who was named in Berenson’s stories as the source of the documents.
Gottstein testified that Berenson told him that a plaintiff’s expert named Dr. David Egilman had a number of documents that Gottstein could obtain by subpoena, according to the AP.