Superior court judge denies injunction request
- The Kern County government cannot stop The Bakersfield Californian from publishing a story on a grand jury investigation.
Sep. 5, 2003 — California Superior Court Judge Gary Friedman denied a request last week for a temporary injunction to prevent The Bakersfield Californian from publishing a story about a recent grand jury investigation.
The request was filed by Mark Nations, chief deputy county counsel for Kern County, located in central California, who argued that publication of the story would interfere with grand jury investigations throughout the 2003-04 term.
Since the Californian acquired its information legally — a former 2002-03 grand jury member approached Christine Bedell, Californian special features reporter, about an unreleased report on government officials in the city of Arvin investigating inner workings of the city organizations — the paper maintained its rights to unrestricted publication, Friedman said in his Aug. 29 ruling. According to the Californian, the story is now scheduled to run Sunday, Sept. 7.
“We were shocked they were even considering it,” said Bob Christie, metro editor of The Bakersfield Californian. “These are not the Pentagon papers; this is a small town that didn’t want the grand jury report to be published.”
Although it is a misdemeanor for a grand jury member to disclose confidential information, Nations told the court he lacked the evidence to name the newspaper’s informant.
© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press