OPA to fight subpoenas seeking coverage on bombing

Friday, December 17th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma press officials Friday predicted a court battle to block subpoenas that have been served on newspapers around the state by Terry Nichols' defense team seeking everything ever published about the Oklahoma City bombing.

"This attorney just wants to spray subpoenas around like a manure spreader," Oklahoma Press Association executive director Mark Thomas said. "They shouldn't be required to go back and re-read five years' worth of newspapers and make a copy of five years' worth of articles."

Subpoenas have been served on more than a dozen daily newspapers by attorneys for Nichols, who faces state murder charges in the
April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. A total of 168 people were killed and more than 500 others injured in the blast.

The subpoenas seek every article, photograph, diagram, cartoon, letter to the editor, advertisement and any other dialogue
involving Nichols, convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh, Michael Fortier, who pleaded guilty to bombing-related charges, and the bombing.

Nichols' lead attorney, Brian Hermanson of Ponca City, declined to comment on the subpoenas.

Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy filed 160 counts of first-degree murder against Nichols earlier this year.

Thomas said complying with the subpoenas would require "untold manhours to do that for this guy -- for free." He said the OPA will
move to quash the subpoenas, which seek the material by Feb. 1.

"We think it's burdensome and there are other places to get that information. They should seek those other options," Thomas said.

"Terry Nichols' defense team is getting a million bucks to defend him. Why don't they go down to the Historical Society ... go
down there and research and buy those copies rather than putting it off on a private business to use our employees and our time to help them make their case," Thomas said.

Thomas said he had heard from about 15 newspapers who have been served with the subpoenas including the Shawnee News-Star, The Edmond Sun, Weatherford Daily News, Hugo Daily News, Pryor Daily Times and Okmulgee Daily News.

Joe Worley, executive editor of the Tulsa World, said his paper had received a subpoena. Mike Shannon, managing editor of The Daily Oklahoman, said the paper had also been subpoenaed. Each paper said it forwarded the subpoenas to its attorney.

Worley said the World's response is that the request is overly broad. He said the material is available for free by looking at back issues of the paper.

"Most of it is on our Web site," he said.

McVeigh has been sentenced to death for his role in the bombing. Nichols was convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter and is serving a life sentence.

Fortier pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, trafficking in guns the government says were stolen to finance the bombing and hiding