Thursday, August 23, 2007

Attorney Casts Wide Net, Comes Up Empty

I walked into the courtroom over at the Bankruptcy Court building a few minutes before 9 am in this morning. All of the attorneys were in place and Judge Kocol was already sitting on the bench and patiently watching the clock. As soon as it struck 9 he called the proceedings to order. Day four of the NLRB vs. News-Press hearing was underway.

First order of business was the matter of the subpoena issued by the paper's attorney Barry Cappello to documentary filmmaker Sam Tyler for his footage of any interviews of former employees of the paper that Tyler has filmed for his yet to be released film on the meltdown at the paper. Tyler had earlier filed a written petition to revoke the subopoena.

Tyler appeared without an attorney and answered a few questions from the judge about his background and the nature of his project. The the judge turned to Cappello and asked him specifically why he wanted the footage. Cappello said that the reporter's interviews could potentially be used to impeach them, i.e., to show that what they said on film may contradict what their testimony in the hearing is, and that he had no other source for such information.

After listening the judge responded, "Seems to me Mr. Cappello the interest Mr. Tyler has in going forward with his project outweighs your interest in this matter." The judge also descriped Cappello as being on a "fishing expedition." Perhaps sensing he was about to lose I detected a faint sign of desperation as Cappello continued his argument and criticized the film as being a "sort of Michael Moore type project." The judge quickly countered "I won't hear that kind of assertion." The judge then granted the petition to revoke the subpoena. Tyler left the courtroom even though he was free to stay, no longer being under subpoena.

Testimony continued from witnesses with an appearance by News-Press human resources director Yolanda Apodaca, also known as "The Angel of Death." That was followed by a brief encore appearance by Scott Steepleton. More on their testimony on tomorrow morning's post.

The witness of the day, and it looks like he will be there for the rest of today and probably into tomorrow, is former assistant City Editor, Bob Guiliano. Among the things he was asked about was his recollection of January 9th of this year when at the end of the day he got a phone call from reporter Leana Orsua who had been assigned by Steepleton to cover the NLRB hearing on the paper's objections to the process leading up to the Union election.

Guiliano testified that Leana had called him from her home and said that she couldn't write the story. She had sat in court that day and listened to Steepleton describe the incident where a number of the reporters in the newsroom had "marched" on Wendy McCaw's office to deliver a letter to her. Orsua was in the newsroom at the time but was not a participant in the march. According to Guliano, she said that she felt that Steepleton's description of the marchers as "stomping" (or perhaps "stamping") was not the way it happened and she couldn't write a story about a proceeding in which her boss had lied.

Guliano informed Steepleton of this but leaving out the part where Orsua was claiming he was lying. Ultimately, according to Guiliano, Steepleton wrote the story of that day's proceedings which ran under a "Staff Report" by-line. Of course that is interesting because last week, Steepleton testified that he couldn't remember who wrote the story.

I must say, Guliano appears a bit nervous and fidgety on the stand, as perhaps, many witnesses might be. Things should get very interesting when Cappello gets him on cross-examination which figures to be later today.

Out of time for now. Stay tuned for more.

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