Tuesday, November 17, 1998 
San Francisco Chronicle

Ruling Allows Activists To Sue Over Disclosure

     Bay Area political activists who have sued a Jewish
civil rights organization are entitled to learn whether
the group illegally disclosed confidential information
about them, a state appeals court ruled yesterday .

     The ruling by the Court of Appeals should enable the
activists to go to trial in their long-stalled suit
against the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.

     The activists' suit, which asks for class-action
status for as many as 1,000 people, relies on a state law
banning disclosure of confidential government
information, with damages of $2,500 for each disclosure.
Filed in 1993, the suit has been delayed by a dispute
over the confidentiality of ADL files. 

     ADL regional director Barbara Bergen said that
although the decision "leaves open the possibility of
limited future discovery from the League," ADL officials
predicted it would lead to a legal victory for the group
in future litigation. The organization, which publishes
newsletters about hate groups, has the legal status of a
journalist, and it says it is therefore entitled to keep
its files and sources confidential.

     The appeals court, however, ruled 3 to 0 that the
ADL could not keep its files secret if they were used for
nonjournalistic activity.