SN&R Legal Aid Fund
Sacramento's mayor wants to keep certain emails secret. He says they are private conversations between him and his attorneys.
SN&R disagrees. These emails are conversations between the mayor, staff, volunteers, interns--everyone. They should be public record.
SN&R is the lone media outlet in town to stand up to the mayor on this issue. And, because of this, we've incurred significant legal fees.
So, we're asking for your help. If you believe in freedom of information, in investigative journalism, in transparency in government--please give to support our work.
The donations you make during this campaign will go to cover our legal expenses, estimated at $30,000--and growing. If we raise more than that amount, it will go towards future Freedom of Information Act and California Public Records Act journalistic activities.
Donors of $100 or more are invited to SN&R's Legal Defense Fundraiser on Wednesday, September 16. Email Jessica Takehara (email@example.com) for more information.
News & Review is not a nonprofit, so donations are not tax-deductible.
Thanks for supporting us. And thanks for reading!
SN&R wishes to thank all of the people who donated to our Legal Aid Fund gofundme campaign.
More than 200 people donated approximately $32,000 to SN&R to help in our legal battle against former Mayor Kevin Johnson.
Last summer SN&R finally had its day in court against Johnson. We prevailed against the former mayor when a Sacramento Superior Court judge ordered Johnson to finally release the remaining batch of emails and records he’d fought to keep secret for more than a year.
That wasn’t the end, however. In December, a judge denied SN&R’s motion to recoup its legal fees, which totaled approximately $112,000. SN&R is appealing this ruling, but it's probably a long shot. Whatever happens, we'll let you know.
But, no matter the ruling, the good news is that, thanks to your support, we at SN&R know that we won. When this battle began, the city and Mayor Johnson withheld more than 500 emails and records from the public. But because SN&R stood up to KJ--and because all of you had our back--Johnson's attorneys handed over more than 400 records and emails. That's a victory--not just for us but for journalism.
SN&R is committed to free speech, investigative journalism and serving its readers. Thank you for helping us to make that happen. And, as always, thank you for reading.
It's been a long road, but it's not over yet.
Our hearing is scheduled for Friday at 10:30 am. at Sacramento Superior Court.
As always, we are confident in our argument and look forward to showing the judge why the remaining 158 secret KJ emails should be made public. (Read more about this here: https://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/what-snr-learned-from-its/content?oid=20614234.)
No matter what the judge rules, the good news is that, thanks to your support, we at SN&R feel that we've already won. When this legal battle began, the city and Mayor Johnson withheld more than 500 emails and records from the public. But because SN&R stood up to KJ--and because all of you had our back--Johnson's attorneys handed over more than 400 records and emails. That's a success.
But, while KJ has been aided by lawyers who work pro bono, SN&R still faces steep legal bills. We appreciate every penny, dime and dollar you've donated over the last eight months. Every contribution, big or small, has helped--and will continue to help us as we move forward.
SN&R is committed to free speech, investigative journalism and serving its readers. Thank you for helping us to make that happen.
See you in court on April 22!
It's been months since any KJ vs. SN&R legal-battle news, but we have an update:
First, our hearing is scheduled for Friday, April 22, at 10:30AM at Sacramento Superior Court. We're confident in our argument and look forward to showing the judge why the remaining 158 secret KJ emails should be made public. (Read more about this in this week's SN&R, or here: https://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/what-snr-learned-from-its/content?oid=20614234.)
No matter what the judge rules, the good news is that, thanks to your support, we at SN&R feel that we've already won. When this legal battle began, the city and Mayor Johnson withheld more than 500 emails and records from the public. But because SN&R stood up to KJ--and because all of you had our back--Johnson's attorneys (who we remind are working pro-bono) handed over more than 400 records and emails. That's a success.
But we're going to keep fighting. See you on April 22!
A little background on this somewhat complicated case. Mayor Johnson became president of the National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM) in 2013, and spent the next year battling another faction for control of the group. Ultimately, Mayor Johnson led NCBM into bankruptcy and then resigned to form a competing organization. Public employees working for the City of Sacramento and political volunteers assisted Mayor Johnson throughout his campaign at NCBM, largely communicating via a private Gmail account maintained by the Mayor’s office. The SN&R served a public records request to the city for these emails, but the mayor and the NCBM bankruptcy trustee claimed that many of these communications were protected by attorney-client privilege.
In a highly unusual move, Mayor Johnson (in his capacity as former President of NCBM), the NCBM, and the bankruptcy trustee, sued the Sacramento News & Review and the Sacramento City Attorney to stop the public release of the emails. The publication argues that the records the mayor is trying to keep secret should be made public under the California Public Records Act, regardless of whether the mayor was using private email servers or accounts.
Although the media and political reach of this case may be regionally focused, it bears a significant public interest. If the mayor succeeds in blocking public review of emails sent in his capacity as mayor that relate to the use of public resources, it could set a precedent that undermines the public’s right of access to governmental information. By suing the SN&R, Mayor Johnson has dramatically raised the costs for the paper to assert its rights, threatening press freedom and the ability of the citizens to be informed about the actions of its elected officials. First Look Media believes that transparency, a free press, and an informed citizenry are vital to democracy, and that public records requests such as the one made by the SN&R is an important tool in this effort.
Launched in July 2014, First Look Media’s Press Freedom Litigation Fund was designed to strengthen the ability of journalists and others to pursue legal fights where a substantial public interest is at stake. Grants under the program are used to fund challenges to government policies or actions that restrict press freedoms or denials of freedom of information act requests; motions to quash subpoenas seeking source information or journalistic material; defamation cases where the underlying report concerns a matter of public interest; access cases to closed proceedings or sealed documents; and amicus efforts in support of press freedom.
To date, the PFLF has provided grants to support the legal appeals of U.S. Army intelligence analyst turned whistleblower Chelsea Manning, Miranda v. Secretary of State for the Home Department and the defense of a defamation case launched against Sahara Reporters and its editor Patrick Sowore by Nigerian Senator Musiliu Obanikoro. Journalists or lawyers who are seeking such support should contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and should include a proposed litigation budget as well as a description of how the litigation at issue furthers press freedom.
First Look Media has also provided grants in support of press freedom to Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; Electronic Frontier Foundation; the Freedom of the Press Foundation; and the First Amendment Coalition among other recipients.
The SNR is a privately owned business - it does not deserve a cent from anyone. They should have insurance for this kind of situation. It is embarrassing that they are asking for donations when they buy ink by the barrel. Mayor Johnson cannot win this without making himself look like a bully. The SNR will get publicity, and he will back down before his cronies dump him. Save your money...