Journalist and attorney Peter Scheer (pictured), executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, says the public has a right to see the settlement documents in Clint Reilly’s anti-trust case against Hearst and MediaNews. In a commentary posted on CFAC’s Web site, Scheer writes:
- [Reilly’s] suit involved allegations of serious misconduct — fixing prices and dividing up markets — which, if true, caused harm to the public at large, not just to Reilly. A secret settlement in such a “public” case is an opportunity for mischief. The worst that could have happened, hypothetically-speaking: MediaNews and Hearst could have used a secret settlement to achieve aspects of the very “conspiracy” with which they were charged in the suit. Under this scenario, Reilly and his lawyers could have been induced to go along with the conspiracy in exchange for an oversize payment of attorney’s fees.
Scheer wants Hearst, MediaNews and Reilly to release the complete settlement immediately — including the amount of attorney’s fees, costs or other sums paid to Reilly — or come forward and defend that decision. “Maybe this time the press will react with appropriate skepticism,” Scheer writes.