Crime Stoppers chief Richard Masten received a contempt of court ruling Thursday after refusing to release an anonymous tip to the court. To prevent the paper from falling into the wrong hands after his arrest, he ate it. Anonymous tips are the backbone of Crime Stoppers and Masten is not going to allow one judge's poor judgement to ruin the future of his organization.
"If I I have to do it again next week I will, next month, I will," Masten said Thursday according to The Miami Herald.
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Victoria Brennan decided on a grade-school punishment rather than jail time. She ordered Masten to study the laws surrounding anonymous tips and return to the court with an essay on what he learned. The "Honorable" Judge Victoria also said he would likely be subject to probation before this is over.
I believe your motives are good,” Brennan said. “But I believe you lack certain understanding. There’s nothing honorable ever, about ignoring a court order.”
Apparently, the judge thinks the term "honorable" that is usually added in front of a judge's name automatically makes the judge's actions honorable. That is not the case.
When anonymity is promised, the honorable thing is to protect that anonymity, regardless of who is telling you not to. If a court tries to compell you to do something against your beliefs, it is not honorable at all to sacrifice those beliefs because someone with a black dress and a hammer told you to. It is, in every sensible definition of the word, actually DIShonorable to follow orders that directly contradict your beliefs.
If courts can punish people for not providing the sources of anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers then how can a journalist ever hope to protect their sources? No person, regardless of government position or title should ever be allowed to force someone to surrender a source.
This is supposedly a free country. It's time for government officials to start acting like it.