May It Please The Court

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Quote of the Day - If I wouldn't say it to a reporter, I wouldn't say it on my blog. - Jason Goldberg
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Judge: Don't Read Newspapers Or Watch TV While You're On This Jury

That's right.  Some five government witnesses and one juror got tossed because they read a blog about an ongoing criminal trial:  Grimes & Warwick's coverage of the Peregrine trial in San Diego.  The trial concerns the securities-fraud trial of four Peregrine Systems, Inc. officials.

Someone perhaps interested in the civil side of the case (can we say, "Plaintiff's lawyer?") hired State-certified criminal specialist attorney Bob Grimes to blog about the trial, and he and his wife Linda, a non-practicing lawyer, have done so religiously on their website.  It's not a first for covering trials:  in the Daily Journal, Don J. DeBenedictis's July 16, 2007 article notes that blogs have written about "the trials involving Lewis "Scooter" Libby in Washington, D.C., former Ku Klux Klansman James Seale in Mississippi and lead-paint makers in Rhode Island."

And presumably who better to cover trials than lawyers?

The reporting is more accurate and perhaps more boring at the same time.  Newspapers write to a sixth-grade audience, lawyers write at the graduate school level, and assume (sometimes too much) familiarity with procedure and legal niceties.  Perhaps with a bit of a twist, lawyers Kevin O'Keefe and Anne W. Reed of Milwaukee law firm Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren have written about Grimes' coverage.

And now I'm writing about their coverage, as well as DeBenedictis's coverage.  Will it never end?

But this one's a bit different.  According to rumor (Grimes declined comment), Grimes has been paid $150,000, or $2,500 per day for 60 days of blogging to cover the trial.  Rumors also allege Grimes writes one version for the party who hired him to blog, and another version is posted on the Internet.  Estimates are that nearly $5 billion is involved with the capitalization of Peregrine. 

Interestingly, it doesn't appear that any of Grimes' posts reveal anything about payment to him for his blogging, but I've only skimmed and searched his posts, not read them for the last sixty days of his trial.  Grimes does provide this cryptic note:  "A class action on behalf of Peregrine stockholders is being litigated in front of United States District Judge Roger Benitez. This civil lawsuit involves many of the same issues that will be litigated in the criminal trial in front of Judge Whelan. .... The federal class action is currently stayed, pending an appeal."

There's nearly five billion reasons to want a daily report.

Some journalists postulate that a disclosure of payment to write is necessary to maintain credibility

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, July 15, 2007 at 00:33 Comments (0)


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