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Court rules that Sports Illustrated not protected by shield law in Price suit
The Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Alabama's shield law does not protect Sports Illustrated from having to identify a confidential source in a defamation suit by former University of Alabama football coach Mike Price.
But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the anonymous source the magazine relied upon in an article about Price is "almost certainly" one of three women whose names have surfaced in the case. Before the magazine has to disclose the source, Price's attorneys must question them under oath about whether they were the source for the 2003 story, the appeals court said.
Price was a longtime coach at Washington State University before taking the Alabama job.
The story quoted the source as saying Price had sex with two women in a hotel after getting drunk at a topless bar in Pensacola, Fla. Price has admitted having too much to drink but denied under oath the magazine's report about having sex.
The three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit, siding with a federal district judge in Birmingham, held that Alabama's shield law specifically mentions protecting newspapers and broadcast news operations from having to disclose confidential sources, but does not mention magazines and therefore does not cover them.
Price attorney Stephen Heninger called the ruling "a huge decision for us" and said one of the three women cited by the court — Lori "Destiny" Boudreaux — has already told him she was the source. He said the admission was in a sworn affidavit.
"She was the confidential source. She will say that. That's what we wanted all along," Heninger said.
Rick McCabe, a Sports Illustrated spokesman, said they are "disappointed that the court concluded that the Alabama shield law does not apply to magazines."
Price was fired as Alabama's coach because of his night of partying. The SI story was published soon after. Price is now head coach at Texas-El Paso.
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