Bloggers won a court victory here in Orange County on August 24, when OC Superior Court Judge ruled in favor of Mr. Christopher Lotts, a blogger who works in the Santa Ana office of the state Department of Labor Standards Enforcement.
You can read my June 24 post for a more complete backstory, but I'll cover it quickly here:
Lotts runs a blog called No Labor Standards, in which he exposes what he sees as waste and incompetence in the DLSE. Department management had been hounding Lotts for months, in hopes of shutting down his blog. Specifically, they wanted him to reveal who were his sources and to turn over his private journals.
Lotts hired Garden Grove Councilman Mark Rosen and sought a writ of mandate telling the DLSE to back off trying to get Lotts to couhg up his sources and journals. I had the opportunity to testify as an expert witness on blogging when the trial began back in late June.
On August 24, Judge Sheila Fell handed down her ruling, which I excerpt here:
The Defendant [the DLSE] did everything correctly to investigate the alleged wrongdoing in the operation of the Department EXCEPT questioning Plaintiff about his sources. Under the First Amendment and case law the sources of a blogger are protected as they are to any other journalist.
Plaintiff's reporting of wrongdoing within the Department were, and are, matters of public interest. His reporting of personal items regarding co-workers, if untrue, is actionable on an individual basis by the offended party.
Let a Peremptory Writ of Mandate issue directing Defendants not to proceed further with the interrogation to the extent it seeks protected material. The Court further grants Plaintiff's request for a permanent injunction enjoining Defendants from demanding to view Plaintiff's journals or disclose Plaintiff's sources.
I'll post Judge Fell's full decision at the end of this post.
So there you have it. A legal victory for bloggers right here behind the Orange Curtain. Our sources are still safe. Christopher Lotts continues to excoriate his superiors in his scorchingly caustic way, protected by the 1st Amendment. I got to be cross-examined by e DLSE attorney intent on convincing the judge I had no particular expertise on blogging.
A good day for democracy.
Here's Judge Fell's decision: