Rev up the presses! Judge Illston rules in favor of a Guardian motion to open all the Hearst/Singleton records during and after the Reilly antitrust trial

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By Bruce B. Brugmann (scroll down for the publishers' briefs and monopoly news you will see nowhere else)

There's bad news and good news today. The bad news is that Federal Judge Susan Illston ruled today
April l2 that the Hearst/Singleton documents of secrecy and stonewalling remain under seal in the Reilly antitrust trial. She adopted the proposals for sealing as put forth by the Hearst/Singleton/Gannett/Stephens attorneys.

The good news is that Illston was clearly exasperated with the publishers' continuing demands for sealing records and stated that "during and after the trial" the public will have a "highly compelling interest in access to all evidence presented by the parties." She concluded her one paragraph order by saying that "the instant sealing orders will therefore have no effect on the sealing of any evidence presented at trial."

Attorney James Wheaton of the First Amendment Project in Oakland had earlier won a ruling from Illston to unseal the Hearst/Singleton court records, but allowed the publishers to seal a new batch of records during a later filing. Wheaton asked for a review and argued that Illston "should apply the more stringent standard applicable to dispositive motions" and that the court "should not seal a record submitted with a dispositive motion unless defendants have made the required showing of 'compelling reasons' and a balancing of 'all relevant factors' to justify sealing." A dispositive motion is one directed toward or effecting dispositon of a case.

Illston responded to Wheaton's appeal with today's order that would unseal the Reilly trial documents and in effect open up the publishers' monopoly moves to lock up the press of the Bay Area and much of California to an unprecedented examination by the staffs of the chain papers, the rest of the press, and the public.

Wheaton is representing the Guardian and the Media Alliance in this action. See my previous "Stop the presses" blog for more information on the secrecy and stonewalling battle and copies of the publishers' filings asking for the lastest batch to be sealed. See Illston's unsealing decision below and Wheaton's appeal in my previous blog. The Guardian will put up all records during and after the trial on its website at sfbg.com.

Professional note to Reilly and his attorneys Joe Alioto and Dan Shulman: make sure you get all the relevant monopolizing documents of the nation's biggest chains into the trial so that the Bay Area, and the rest of the world, can see how it is done and how monopolies censor and mangle the coverage of their own monopoly moves. This is one of the big Censored Stories of our time. And it is indeed chilling to watch these events unfold.

Repeating the key question: why is it that a reader and an intervening alternative newspaper have to do the job of the California Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney's office? Antitrust? What's antitrust these days? B3

Click here to view Judge Illston's order to unseal