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Local Stories by Local People
updated: Sep 22, 2006, 12:00 AM


A group of leading Santa Barbara lawyers have formed an assistance fund to help assure equal access to the civil justice system for journalists who assert that they are exercising their free speech rights under the First Amendment.

“The Santa Barbara community needs to stand up in defense of the First Amendment and the principle of equal access to justice,” said Jana Zimmer, one of the organizers of the Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech Rights. “This is the right time and the right place to underscore our commitment to the constitutional right to speak publicly and freely.” The group currently has forty-four members and is growing.

The organization’s formation was announced during the third month of the ongoing controversy surrounding the Santa Barbara News Press. Three former News Press employees – Executive Editor Jerry Roberts, columnist Barney Brantingham, and Business Editor Michael Todd reportedly received letters from a News Press attorney warning them about making public statements concerning the newspaper. In addition, the local media report that Mr. Roberts has been served with an arbitration demand issued by the News Press.

The Lawyers Alliance includes a number of Santa Barbara’s best known attorneys from both civil and criminal practice. Its members include L. Donald Boden, former Superior Court Judge and currently a civil attorney in private practice, James M. Slater, former Superior Court Judge and currently an arbitrator and mediator, Linda Krop, chief counsel at the Environmental Defense Center, Stanley M. Roden, former Santa Barbara District Attorney and currently a mediator/arbitrator, Richard Goldman, Dean of Santa Barbara College of Law, and Kirk Ah Tye, past president of the Santa Barbara County Bar Association.

"It is appropriate for Santa Barbara’s lawyers to actively work to ensure equal access to the civil justice system," said Dean Goldman. "We have an opportunity here to recall and honor the free speech principles necessary to a free press and a robust community debate on a matter of such importance."

The Lawyers Alliance will raise private funds to provide financial assistance to those journalists who face unexpected legal expenses or economic hardships related to the exercise of their free speech rights. Having those funds available is important to achieve and maintain equal access to justice. The assistance will be available to help defray legal and other expenses.

A list of the forty-four lawyers who have volunteered so far to join the Alliance is attached. More names will be added as additional lawyers step forward to participate. Donations may be sent to the Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech Rights, P.O. Box 5159, Santa Barbara, CA 93150

forty-four lawyers

* Professional and other affiliations are shown for identification only. The individuals listed are participating as individuals, and not as representatives of any organization or entity with which they are or have been affiliated.

  • Joseph D. Allen, private practice, former Deputy County Counsel

  • Steven A. Amerikaner, partner, Hatch & Parent*, former Santa Barbara City Attorney.

  • Bruce N. Anticouni, founding partner, Anticouni & Associates

  • Robert L. Bletcher, private practice

  • L. Donald Boden, partner, Griffith & Thornburgh*, former Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge.

  • Kathlene Bonnigson, private practice

  • Donald Briggs, private practice

  • R.A. Carrington, neutral

  • Raymond Chandler, private practice

  • Marc Chytilo, private practice, former chief counsel, Environmental Defense Center

  • C Michael Cooney, private law practice, Member, Santa Barbara County Planning Commission*

  • Renee deJong, General Counsel, Santa Barbara Regional Health Authority*

  • Joyce E. Dudley, Professor, S


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