‘Silent’ Newsman Ordered to Jail
Thursday, July 29th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Jul. 29 — Former Herald-Examiner reporter William Farr Wednesday was ordered in Los Angeles to jail until he tells a judge the specific source of information for a news story he wrote alleging the Manson “family” planned to kill celebrities.
However, Superior Court Judge Charles H. Older, stayed Farr’s contempt of court, sentence for 20 days for the former newsman to appeal the contempt rulings to the State Court of Appeals.
The judge told Farr that further court action will proceed to see if he is guilty of a separate contempt of court charge for obtaining and publishing the story.
During earlier proceedings before Older, the judge had found Farr in contempt 17 times for refusing to answer questions about the his information.
However, the judge ruled Wednesday afternoon that he was in contempt only 13 times.
Deputy county counsel William Stewart explained to newsmen that the judge, in the interim, had decided Farr had actually answered four of the 17 original questions on which he was found in contempt.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, Judge Older, who presided over the Tate-LaBianca murder trial, gave the former reporter one more chance to answer the questions, but Farr again refused.
In declining to answer the questions, Farr, who is now news secretary for District Attorney Joseph P. Busch Jr., has always claimed the newmen’s immunity against contempt for refusing to answer questions concerning a source of information.
This immunity is contained in a section of the state evidence code.
Before he became Busch’s news secretary, Farr covered nearly all of the Tate-LaBianca trial.
He wrote a story, which was published last Oct. 9, in which a former cellmate of Tate-LaBianca defendant Susan Atkins claimed that Miss Atkins told her the Charles Manson tribe planned to kill celebrities such is the Richard Burtons, Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones.
At the time Farr obtained the information for the story, prosecutors and defense attorneys in the Tate-LaBianca murder wore under a court-imposed gag rule.