R.Kelly

AP Photo/Lou Chukman

R. Kelly's child-pornography trial just took a detour into a First Amendment case.

Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan today ruled that Chicago Sun-Times music critic Jim DeRogatis, the first person known to have been in possession of the infamous sex tape featuring the R&B star and an alleged minor, must turn over his notes and take the stand.

DeRogatis has long chronicled Kelly's personal travails in the newspaper and has been pegged by the singer's legal team as harboring an extreme bias against the artist.

The music writer will be called as a witness for the defense, who plan to ask him how he came to possess the VHS tape and what he did with it between the time he received it and handed it over to police in 2002.

According to previous testimony in the case, DeRogatis came into possession of the tape after an anonymous tipster left the video in his mailbox.

The defense contends DeRogatis illegally copied the tape and screened it for Stephanie "Sparkle" Edwards, a relative of the alleged minor, to verify the girl's identity. Should that prove true, the reporter would have violated state laws against reproduction and dissemination of child pornography.

If it's not true, it would challenge testimony already given by Edwards, who claimed she viewed the tape with DeRogatis after the date he turned it over to police. With the potential to undermine her credibility, Kelly's attorneys argued that the writer's testimony was "crucial" to their case.

While Gaughan rejected arguments by the Chicago Sun-Times' legal team that forcing the writer to testify would violate the First Amendment, the judge did set up certain parameters to be followed during questioning.

The defense will not be allowed to ask the writer about any of his sources or subpoena notes taken prior to his handing over the tape to police; anything taken after, however, is fair game.

DeRogatis plans on appealing the ruling.

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