Cory Briggs, an attorney at the center of an inewsource investigation, has withdrawn a subpoena he served on inewsource’s executive director in April.
The subpoena sought information about a statement San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith made to inewsource reporters in February concerning Briggs’ personal and professional partner, Sarichia Cacciatore, and her role as vice president of the Briggs Law Corp. The statement was,
“It was stated by Cory Briggs as a fact… and we have verified that.”
Earlier that week, inewsource published a story examining Briggs’ relationship with Cacciatore, a former environmental biologist for Helix Environmental Planning, a city-contracted company whose work Briggs had sued over. After inewsource uncovered the potential conflict, the City Attorney’s Office found evidence that Cacciatore was also vice president of her husband’s law firm. Helix agreed to pay the city $143,000 to settle all claims related to the conflict in April while Briggs has fought since February to prove that Goldsmith’s office leaked confidential information to the reporters.
On April 20, inewsource’s legal counsel, Guylyn Cummins, served Briggs with a letter explaining state and federal laws protect journalists against compelled testimony. Briggs did not respond until May 5 after a trip out of the country.
He offered to withdraw the subpoena in exchange for “a simple declaration from the reporter to whom Mr. Goldsmith made the attributed statement confirming that the statement as reported is in fact what Mr. Goldsmith said.”
inewsource agreed, but when Briggs began to demand additional facts about the interview, Cummins, under a deadline to respond, filed a full motion to quash the subpoena with the court.
At 7:29 p.m., Briggs sent an email to Cummins saying he took the deposition off calendar and withdrew the subpoena because, “Mr. Goldsmith himself sent me a letter that essentially confirms what I hoped to confirm with your organization’s dec or depo.”
inewsource obtained that letter, which can be read in full here. In it, Goldsmith addressed Briggs’ concerns about disseminating confidential material by pointing out that the deposition of Cacciatore — the heart of the matter in all of this — was not confidential under a court order:
“The court’s order protects the identities of SDOG (San Diegans for Open Government) members,” Goldsmith wrote. “As Sarichia Cacciatore is not and has never been a member of SDOG, she is not protected by the order. Nor, is her status as Vice President of your law firm protected by the order.
“Even though the testimony of Ms. Cacciatore was not confidential under the order, our office did not discuss her testimony until after the transcript was made public.”
Briggs did not respond to an inewsource request for comment on Thursday.
Lorie Hearn, executive director of inewsource, said she was happy Briggs withdrew the subpoena but was concerned it took a major legal effort by inewsource attorneys to achieve the result.
“I believe the subpoena was a ruse to distract us from our reporting and to force us to spend money on legal costs,” she said. “inewsource contends the subpoena was in retaliation for the stories we have published over the past two months about Mr. Briggs’ business practices and conflicts of interest.”
Briggs’ subpoena was part of his ongoing case against the city in a San Diegans for Open Government lawsuit filed in 2012 challenging a hotel room surcharge used to fund collective marketing for hoteliers.
San Diegans for Open Government, a nonprofit, is also suing inewsource over alleged issues with its lease at San Diego State University, although for the first time in the organization’s history, Briggs is not representing the group.
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inewsource is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom dedicated to improving lives in the San Diego region and beyond through impactful, data-based investigative and accountability journalism.
Betrayals of the public trust are revealed and rectified, wrongdoing is deterred, and inequities are illuminated thanks to inewsource’s deep, dogged, fact-based reporting.
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In addition, inewsource follows the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists. The latest version, revised in 2014, can be found here.
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We subscribe to standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) as follows:
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Below is a breakdown of staffing data at inewsource. We determine the composition of our staff by asking them to self-identify. It is based on a newsroom of 11 and a total staff of 15 as of August 2020. Percentages are based on 15 total survey responses. The numbers include full-time and part-time staff, full-time fellows and full-time and part-time interns.
Percentages are based on 15 total survey responses. The numbers include full-time and part-time staff, full-time fellows and full-time and part-time interns.
Percentages are based on 15 completed survey responses to this question.
Percentages are based on 15 completed survey responses to this question.
|Gender Identity||Gender Identity||Gender Identity|
|Sexual Orientation||Sexual Orientation||Sexual Orientation|
|Not specified||7%||Not specified||7%|
|Speak a language beyond English at home||33%||Speak a language beyond English at home||18%||Speak a language beyond English at home||75%|
|Hispanic or Latinx||20%||Two or more races||18%||Hispanic or Latinx||50%|
|Two or more races||13%||Hispanic or Latinx||9%|
|60 or older||13%||60 or older||9%||60 or older||25%|
* The percentages in the charts have been rounded and may not add up to 100.
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inewsource is a nonprofit organization, whose legal name is Investigative Newsource. It does business as inewsource. The business was incorporated on Aug. 4, 2009 in the state of California. Tax-exempt status as a 501c3 was granted by the IRS on Sept. 15, 2010. inewsource is funded primarily by individual contributions and foundation grants. We are guided by a board of directors.
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inewsource reporters have primary responsibility for reporting, writing, and fact-checking their stories. But before a story is published, the reporter reviews all facts and sources with an editor or another reporter. Facts must be traced to a primary source.
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Corrections and clarifications should be included at the bottom of stories and dated.
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CEO, Editor and Founder: Lorie Hearn, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lorie Hearn is the chief executive officer, editor and founder of inewsource. She founded inewsource in the summer of 2009, following a successful reporting and editing career in newspapers. She retired from The San Diego Union-Tribune, where she had been a reporter, Metro Editor and finally the senior editor for Metro and Watchdog Journalism. In addition to department oversight, Hearn personally managed a four-person watchdog team, composed of two data specialists and two investigative reporters. Hearn was a Nieman Foundation fellow at Harvard University in 1994-95. She focused on juvenile justice and drug control policy, a natural course to follow her years as a courts and legal affairs reporter at the San Diego Union and then the Union-Tribune.
Hearn became Metro Editor in 1999 and oversaw regional and city news coverage, which included the city of San Diego’s financial debacle and near bankruptcy. Reporters and editors on Metro during her tenure were part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning stories that exposed Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham and led to his imprisonment.
Hearn began her journalism career as a reporter for the Bucks County Courier Times, a small daily outside of Philadelphia, shortly after graduating from the University of Delaware. During the decades following, she moved through countless beats at five newspapers on both coasts.
High-profile coverage included the historic state Supreme Court election in 1986, when three sitting justices were ousted from the bench, and the 1992 execution of Robert Alton Harris. That gas chamber execution was the first time the death penalty was carried out in California in 25 years.
In her nine years as Metro Editor at the Union-Tribune, Hearn made watchdog reporting a priority. Her reporters produced award-winning investigations covering large and small local governments. The depth and breadth of their public service work was most evident in coverage of the wildfires of 2003 and then 2007, when more than half a million people were evacuated from their homes.
Managing Editor: Mark J. Rochester, email@example.com
Mark J. Rochester began as inewsource managing editor in April 2021, having served as editor in chief at Type Investigations, a nonprofit investigative newsroom in Manhattan. He was previously senior news director for investigations at the Detroit Free Press. Both newsrooms, he notes, shared a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and their investigative journalism often received national recognition for exposing problems impacting communities of color.
His family looks forward to returning to California, having spent more than seven years in San Francisco where Rochester was a senior manager for the Associated Press. While with the news cooperative, he led computer-assisted reporting training efforts around the West, both inside and outside of AP, and conducted a widely used analysis of the $74 million in campaign contributions that went toward the California gay marriage ballot initiative in 2008. The AP analyzed who gave and why and then made the data available to member newspapers. The resulting series of stories based on the data was AP’s 2009 Pulitzer nomination for Local Reporting.
Rochester, who served as a Pulitzer Prize jurist in 2017, also has held senior leadership positions at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Denver Post, Newsday and The Indianapolis Star. Rochester is vice president of Investigative Reporters & Editors Inc., the 6,000+ member international organization dedicated to improving investigative journalism. He also serves on the national advisory board of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University in Washington, D.C.
Managing Editor: Laura Wingard, firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Wingard is the managing editor at inewsource. She has been an editor in San Diego since 2002, working at The San Diego Union-Tribune, KPBS and now inewsource. At the Union-Tribune, she served in a variety of roles including as enterprise editor, government editor, public safety and legal affairs editor, and metro editor. She directed the newspaper’s award-winning coverage of the October 2007 wildfires and the 2010 disappearance of Poway teenager Chelsea King. She also oversaw reporting on San Diego’s pension crisis.
For two years, Wingard was news and digital editor at KPBS, overseeing a team of four multimedia reporters and two web producers. She also was the KPBS liaison with inewsource and collaborated with inewsource chief executive officer and editor Lorie Hearn on investigative work by both news organizations.
Wingard also worked at the Las Vegas Review-Journal as the city editor and as an award-winning reporter covering the environment and politics. She also was the assistant managing editor for metro at The Press-Enterprise in Riverside. She earned her bachelor’s degree at California State University, Fullerton, with a double major in communications/journalism and political science.
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