Business Law Mock Trial Video


A Civil Case By:

Tom Burke Harvard Law School in

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Adam Siry Columbia Law School New York, New York

Revised by the AMTA Civil Case Committee: Dan Haughey (Co-chair), David Cross (Co-chair), Justin Bernstein, Gonzalo Freixes, Thomas Parker, Don Racheter, Jim Wagoner, Johnathan Woodward, and John Vile

Revised 3/1/1009


On September 24, 2006, Midlands gubernatorial candidate Drew Walton participated in a gun control debate against Professor Lane Hamilton at the Midlands Civic Center. After the debate, the two became embroiled in an argument in the Civic Center parking lot. Shots were fired and Lane Hamilton was found dead in the parking lot, the victim of an apparent gunshot wound to the head. Within an hour, Blitz News Network (“BNN”) reporter Reagan Thomas— present to cover the debate—gave a live broadcast that implicated Walton in Hamilton’s death. Walton maintains that Hamilton committed suicide. Walton has now brought a claim for defamation, arguing that BNN’s statements during the September 24, 2006 broadcast falsely accused Walton of shooting Hamilton. BNN denies the allegations, asserting that its statements were truthful and its broadcast was proper.


All witnesses are gender neutral and can be played by a member of either sex. 1. Kit Berkshire, BNN President (may only be called by the Defense) 2. Riley Faith, journalism professor 3. Harley Kim, BNN photojournalist 4. Gorgie Larson, internet blogger 5. Fran Martin, BNN producer 6. Mickey McQuiggan, Midlands Death Investigator 7. Jan Patel, Civic Center janitor 8. Leslie Richards, psychiatrist (may only be called by the Defense) 9. Reagan Thomas, BNN reporter (may only be called by the Defense) 10. Drew Walton, Plaintiff (may only be called by the Plaintiff)

EXHIBITS 1. Transcript of Official Broadcast (Exhibit A to the Complaint) 2. Autopsy Report 3. Curriculum Vitae of Leslie Richards 4. Curriculum Vitae of Riley Faith 5. Memorandum from Fran Martin to Kit Berkshire 6. Email from Fran Martin to Reagan Thomas 7. BNN Press Release 8. Journalistic Ethics Report of Riley Faith 9. Memorandum from Kit Berkshire to all BNN employees 10. Gloves worn by Lane Hamilton on September 24, 2006 (see Special Instruction 3(b))

Revised 3/1/2009


1. The plaintiff Drew Walton is named in honor and memory of former University of Iowa competitor Brooke Walton, who was tragically killed by a drunk driver in 2006. The dedication is in name only: the attributes and actions of the Drew Walton character are in no way intended to reflect the attributes or actions of Brooke Walton. Other than the Drew Walton character, the witnesses and events in this case are purely fictional and have no connection to real people or events.

2. The witness selection order shall be PDPDPD. 3. There are no restrictions as to how evidence may be used in a trial beyond the

requirements that participants acknowledge the legitimacy of the documents provided by AMTA and follow the principles and procedures set forth by the Midlands Rules of Court. Proper foundation still needs to be laid, and to the extent that the authenticity standard promulgated by MRE 901 requires testimony sufficient to show that evidence is what it purports to be, such is still required. However, arguing that AMTA supplied documents are not the real documents mentioned in witnesses’ affidavits is a violation of Rule 8.4’s prohibition of hyper-technicality. The following list is designed to elucidate the impact of this Instruction:

a. Teams are not permitted to bring an actual or look-alike gun into any courtroom.

Walton’s gun was returned to Walton by the police and is no longer acquirable. Teams are not permitted to proffer any bullets or fingerprints to the court.

b. Teams may produce the cloth gloves recovered from Lane Hamilton. The gloves

should be of any generic cloth variety, and should not have any visible markings or deformities that could be used to advance case theory. The gloves should be bagged during presentation at trial. Either team may provide the gloves, but should agree at captain’s meeting as to which side will provide the pair to be used at trial. In the event that the parties cannot agree on which pair of gloves will be used, the party calling Mickey McQuiggan will choose the gloves to be used; and if neither side calls Mickey McQuiggan, the plaintiff will choose the gloves to be used. No person may try on the gloves during trial.

4. The Case Summary provided on the previous page may not be used as evidence or

introduced in any fashion during trial or pre-trial activities. 5. No team may amend their pleadings before or during trial. This precludes both parties

from conceding elements or issues that they have previously contested for the purpose of excluding otherwise relevant evidence. For example, the Defense may not attempt to stipulate to the element of falsity or concede that Lane Hamilton’s death was a suicide, and then object to Plaintiff evidence as irrelevant because the issue of falsity and/or the cause of Lane Hamilton’s death are no longer in dispute. Of course, the Defense need not affirmatively contest falsity during its statements and examinations—that is, a Defense may focus exclusively on other elements so long as it does not attempt to preclude the Plaintiff from offering evidence on the issue(s) that the Defense is not contesting

Revised 9/24/2008






Case No. 07-CV-1053


Superior Court for the State of Midlands – Southern District

Plaintiff Drew Walton (“Walton” or “Plaintiff”) alleges as follows:


1. Walton is a citizen of the state of Midlands with residence at 238 Chestnut Avenue, Brookridge,


2. As of September 24, 2006, Walton was one of two major party candidates for the governorship of


3. The Defendant, Blitz News Network (“BNN” or “the Defendant”) is a corporation organized

under the laws of Delaware with its principal place of business in the state of New York. BNN is

an American television news network available in 93% of United States households in 2006.

Before 2004, BNN was Blitz Television Station (“BTS”), a television station that focused on

game shows, entertainment, music and fashion. In 2004, BTS changed its name to BNN and

increased its emphasis on journalism.


4. Plaintiff brings this action for defamation under Chapter 73 of the Midlands Civil Code, therefore

giving this Court subject matter jurisdiction.

5. This Court has specific personal jurisdiction over Defendant because Defendant (a) purposefully

committed, within the State of Midlands, the acts from which this lawsuit arises; and (b)

committed tortious acts outside Midlands, knowing and intending that such acts would cause

injury within the state. The Court also has general personal jurisdiction over Defendants as they

conduct continuous, systematic, and routine business within the State of Midlands.

6. Venue is proper in the Southern District of the Superior Court of the State of Midlands.


7. On September 24, 2006, Walton participated in a debate at the Midlands Civic Center against

Midlands University Professor Lane Hamilton. The debate began at 8:00 and concluded at 9:15.

Revised 3/1/2009

8. BNN employees, including reporter Reagan Thomas and camera crew, were sent to the Civic

Center for the express purpose of broadcasting that debate to a national audience via BNN’s

network television station.

9. At approximately 9:45 pm, Lane Hamilton committed suicide by firearm in the Civic Center

parking lot.

10. From 10:17 to 10:19, BNN interrupted its televised broadcast of the Oski Awards, an annual

awards show devoted to celebrity gossip and fashion, for a live news broadcast from Reagan

Thomas (“the Broadcast”), who was reporting from the Midlands Civic Center parking lot.

11. During the Broadcast, BNN accused Walton, by specific allegation and imputation, of murder.

Specifically, BNN accused Walton of shooting Lane Hamilton.

12. The document attached as Exhibit A to this Complaint is a fair, accurate and complete transcript

of the Broadcast. It is an authentic copy of the original transcript. The statements made within

Exhibit were made by BNN, by and through its authorized employees, representatives and agents,

all acting within the scope and in furtherance of their employment, representation and agency for

Defendant BNN.

13. According to Nielsen Ratings, the Broadcast was seen by more than 7 million viewers in the

United States.

14. On September 25, 2006, the Midlands Coroner’s Office and the Midlands Police Department

ruled Lane Hamilton’s death a suicide.

15. On September 25, 2006, BNN retracted The Broadcast in a press release written by BNN Chief

Executive Officer Kit Berkshire.

16. On November 7, 2006, Drew Walton lost the Midlands gubernatorial election.


17. The Broadcast included false statements about and concerning Walton. These statements were

false because Walton did not shoot or kill Lane Hamilton. The cause of Lane Hamilton’s death

was suicide.

18. BNN’s false statements were defamatory in nature because they stated and implied that Walton

had committed a serious crime.

19. By making the Broadcast to more than 7 million viewers, BNN published a false statement to

multiple third persons.

20. Defendant BNN acted with actual malice in making and disseminating the statements contained

in the Broadcast. Defendant BNN, individually and by and through its employees, agents, and

representatives, made the allegations and imputations contained in the Broadcast knowing that

such allegations and imputations were false, or made these allegations and imputations in the

Broadcast in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity.

Revised 3/1/2009

21. The Broadcast clearly and repeatedly mentioned Walton’s name, such that any viewer would

reasonably have recognized that BNN’s broadcast was referring to Plaintiff Drew Walton, and

could not have reasonably believed that the report was referring to someone other than Plaintiff

Drew Walton.

22. Any viewer would reasonably have understood the Broadcast to be defamatory with respect to


23. The Broadcast was an unprivileged communication.

24. This broadcast caused severe damage to Drew Walton’s national reputation, such that:

a. Drew Walton’s ability to engage in fundraising for nonprofit organizations has been

entirely or substantially impaired.

b. Drew Walton’s ability to obtain public office has been entirely or substantially


c. Drew Walton’s ability to speak with credibility on moral matters to a national

audience has been entirely or substantially impaired.

WHEREFORE, Drew Walton respectfully requests judgment for:

1. Compensatory damages in the amount of $25,000,000 for irrevocable damage to


2. Punitive damages in the total amount of $25,000,000;

3. Attorney’s fees and the costs of this action; and

4. All other appropriate relief.

Respectfully Submitted,

Attorney for Plaintiff

DATED: December 1, 2006

Exhibit A to the Complaint


START TIME: 10:17:04 P.M. Midlands Daylight Time [VIDEO SHOWS: BNN Live Coverage of Oski Awards] JAY BYMAN: Before we move on to the next award, we’re going to send it back to the

BNN Tower for a breaking news alert. [VIDEO SHOWS: BNN Breaking News] ANNOUNCER: From the BNN Tower, this is a BNN Breaking News Alert. [VIDEO SHOWS: R.J. Reeves at anchor desk] [CG LOWER: BNN BREAKING NEWS – LANE HAMILTON SHOT DEAD] R.J. REEVES: And I’m R.J. Reeves. BNN has learned that professor Lane Hamilton was

shot dead just moments after a debate with Midlands gubernatorial candidate Drew Walton.

With the latest we go now live to BNN’s Reagan Thomas who’s live

outside the Midlands Civic Center. [VIDEO SHOWS: Double Boxes: R.J. Reeves/BNN Tower Reagan Thomas/Midlands] Reagan, what can you tell us? [VIDEO SHOWS: Reagan Thomas in front of loading dock area, yellow police tape,

emergency vehicles, onlookers] [CG LOWER: REAGAN THOMAS – LIVE – MIDLANDS] REAGAN THOMAS: R.J., I’m behind the Civic Center in downtown Midlands City with a

horrifying bulletin. Lane Hamilton, one of the world’s leading scholars, was gunned down just half an hour ago. But Blitz News is the first to report the even more shocking news that it appears the person responsible is gubernatorial candidate and First Child of Midlands, Drew Walton.

Walton and Hamilton confronted each other in the Civic Center parking lot after a gun control debate between the two here earlier this evening. BNN has learned that Hamilton made a derogatory comment about Walton’s late father, Walton whipped out a gun, the two kept arguing, when shots rang out. I’ve spoken with several eyewitnesses and the police here at the Civic Center. Ladies and gentlemen, I wouldn’t have believed

Exhibit A to the Complaint

it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, but all evidence points to Drew Walton as the person who shot Professor Hamilton.

[VIDEO SHOWS: Double Boxes: R.J. Reeves/BNN Tower Reagan Thomas/Midlands] R.J. REEVES: Reagan, what’s the scene like there right now? [VIDEO SHOWS: Reagan Thomas in front of loading dock area, yellow police tape,

emergency vehicles, onlookers] [CG LOWER: BNN EXCLUSIVE: WALTON MAY BE HAMILTON SHOOTER] REAGAN THOMAS: This is unbelievable. A massive crowd is forming behind me. Police are

working to keep them at a distance so the crime scene investigators can work. You have the tragic irony of a gun-related death after a gun control debate. The possible involvement of one of the most celebrated families in America. The uncertainty that surrounds a crime with so many questions and, currently, so few answers. What we know right now is that Midlands police have taken Drew Walton away from the Civic Center, and all signs indicate homicide charges are forthcoming.

[VIDEO SHOWS: Double Boxes: R.J. Reeves/BNN Tower Reagan Thomas/Midlands] R.J. REEVES: Thanks for the update, Reagan. [VIDEO SHOWS: R.J. Reeves at anchor desk] [CG LOWER: BNN EXCLUSIVE: WALTON MAY BE HAMILTON SHOOTER] R.J. REEVES: To recap, BNN’s Reagan Thomas is the first to report that Drew Walton,

the infamous Midlands gubernatorial candidate, appears to be the shooter responsible for the untimely death of Professor Lane Hamilton earlier this evening in Midlands. Stay with BNN and for the latest on this breaking news alert.

Off Time: 10:19:26 Midlands Daylight Time

-oO0Oo- I, Sean Shahabi, certify that the foregoing transcript is an accurate word-for-word record of the air check logger tape maintained by Blitz News Network at the above stated date and times. I further certify that the non-verbal items accurately describe the relevant non-verbal portions. ___________________________ Sean Shahabi, RPR, CBC Notary Public, State of Midlands

Revised 9/24/2008






Case No. 07-CV-1053 WQH (RBB)


Superior Court for the State of Midlands

Southern District

Blitz News Network (“BNN”) answers as follows:


1. The Defendant lacks sufficient knowledge to form an opinion as to the truth of the allegations in

paragraph 1, and therefore denies them.

2. Admitted.

3. Admitted.


4. Admitted.

5. Admitted as to this Court having personal jurisdiction over the Defendant, but Denied as to the

factual allegations otherwise stated.

6. Admitted.


7. Admitted.

8. Admitted.

9. Denied.

10. Admitted.

11. Denied.

12. Admitted.

13. Admitted.

14. Admitted

15. Denied.

16. Admitted.


17. Denied.

Revised 9/24/2008

18. Denied.

19. Denied.

20. Denied.

21. Admitted.

22. Denied.

23. Admitted.

24. The Defendant lacks sufficient knowledge to form an opinion as to the truth of the allegations,

and therefore denies them.

Respectfully Submitted,

Attorney for the Defendant DATED: December 15, 2006

Revised 3/1/2009






Case No. 07-CV-1053 WQH (RBB)


Superior Court for the State of Midlands

Southern District The parties to the above entitled action agree to the following stipulations: 1. On the night of September 24, 2006, Reagan Thomas, Fran Martin, Harley Kim and Kit

Berkshire were employees of Blitz News Network (“BNN”) and were acting in the course of employment. All remain employed by BNN, though BNN only reserves the right to designate Reagan Thomas or Kit Berkshire, but not both, as the BNN representative for the purposes of Midlands Rule of Evidence 615.

2. Both parties waive any and all objections to the admissibility of the Autopsy Report, the

Press Release, and the Certified Broadcast Transcript from September 24, 2006 (Exhibit A to the Complaint).

3. All witness affidavits and all other documents with places for signatures are to be treated as

having been signed. Authenticity of affidavits and the signatures within those affidavits are not at issue, and all witnesses have reviewed and updated their affidavits immediately prior to coming to court. All witnesses were told to include all relevant information in their affidavits.

4. By agreement of both parties, this trial has been bifurcated. This portion of the case deals

only with liability, not damages. ______ Attorney for the Plaintiff Attorney for the Defendant

Revised 3/1/2009






Case No. 07-CV-1053 WQH (RBB)


Superior Court for the State of Midlands

Southern District

Based on the parties’ moving papers and oral argument, this Court enters the following findings of fact and order:


The motion to exclude or limit the testimony of Doctor Richards on the grounds of doctor-patient

privilege is DENIED. The evidence presented to this Court unequivocally establishes that the plaintiff

has waived any claim of privilege. Thus, neither party may object to Doctor Richards’s testimony on the

basis of doctor-patient privilege. Pursuant to Sun v. Kilaru, the Court also DENIES Plaintiff’s motion to

exclude testimony regarding what Dr. Richards said to defendant’s reporter, Reagan Thomas, on the

grounds that such testimony constitutes either improper character evidence or hearsay. Thus, in order to

address the element of actual malice, either party may present evidence of the plaintiff’s prior conduct,

character traits or medical/psychological conditions or disorders to the extent that such evidence was

known to the defendant at the time of publication. Whether such evidence may be used for other

purposes is an issue reserved for ruling at trial.



The Defendant’s motion for an order declaring the Plaintiff an all-purpose public figure is GRANTED.

At the time of the events that give rise to this lawsuit, Walton was a candidate for Governor of Midlands,

as well as a national celebrity. Plaintiff’s arguments to the contrary are unavailing. Accordingly, Plaintiff

must meet the burden of proof required by Midlands Code 73.003.

Judge Scott Joannesburg

July 11, 2008

Revised 3/1/2009

Midlands Civil Code Civil Practice and Remedies Code Title 4. Liability in Tort Chapter 73. Libel 73.001. Elements of Libel In an action for defamation or libel, the plaintiff must prove the following elements: (a) The defendant published a statement of fact of or concerning the plaintiff. (b) The statement is false. (c) The statement is defamatory in nature. (d) The defendant is at fault for the publication. (e) The plaintiff suffered some harm or injury as a result of the publication. 73.002. Fault In adjudging whether a defendant is “at fault” within the meaning of Midlands Civil Code § 73.001(d), the following standards shall apply: (a) If a plaintiff is not a public figure, he or she must prove that the defendant negligently published the statement giving rise to the action. Negligence, for the purposes of defamation, is the failure to act as a reasonable person would in assessing whether the statement to be published was indeed truthful. (b) If a plaintiff is a public figure, he or she must prove that the defendant acted with actual malice in publishing the statement. 73.003. Burden of proof In cases brought pursuant to Midlands Civil Code § 73.001, the burden of proof depends on the status of the plaintiff. If the plaintiff is not a public figure, he or she must prove each element under section 73.001 by a preponderance of the evidence. If the plaintiff is a public figure, he or she must prove each element of section 73.001 by clear and convincing evidence. 73.004. Vicarious Liability A corporation or employer will be held vicariously liable for any act of libel committed by an employee acting in the course of their employment, whether or not the corporation or employer had any knowledge of the statement’s defamatory character at the time of its publication.

Midlands Case Law Note that, in Midlands, the Superior Courts are the trial courts, the (lone) Court of Appeals hears appeals from the Superior Courts, and the Supreme Court hears appeals from the Court of Appeals. Thus, the Midlands Supreme Court is the state’s highest court but opinions from both appellate courts are binding on trial courts in Midlands. Grundy v. Hampton, 23 Mid. 688 (2004). In a defamation suit by a famous stick-figure artist against his ex-wife for statements that Plaintiff had become a “creepy stalker,” the Midlands Supreme Court delineated how a public figure or public official plaintiff can satisfy the element of actual malice. “Actual malice may be demonstrated either by (i) the intentional publication of statements known by the defendant to be false, or (ii) the defendant’s reckless disregard of the statements’ possible falsity.” Kramlen v. Michael, 185 Mid. 341 (2001). Plaintiff, a noted scholar and all-purpose public figure, brought a defamation suit against defendant journalist for statements that plaintiff had plagiarized the treatise for which he won the Nobel Prize in Mathematics, Tiebreakers in the New Millennium: Volume Eleven. The Midlands Supreme Court affirmed the summary judgment dismissal, finding that a reporter does not act with reckless disregard of a statement’s falsity merely because she does not corroborate information provided by a source. “When defendant has based his report on a source believed to have a history of truthful and honest statements, that defendant has not acted with ‘actual malice.’ Moreover, human sources need not be shining wonders of veracity in order for reporters to rely on them safely. Some of the most revealing journalism is made possible only through testimony by less than savory characters that might not traditionally be sources of first-rate news. However, “actual malice” may yet be found when the third-party source is of such dubious character that the journalist likely could not, in good faith, have actually believed him or her, or where the situation smacks of purposeful avoidance of the truth. Without making an exclusive list, one could readily surmise that this domain might be inhabited by anonymous tipsters, chronically inaccurate gossips, emotionally-charged individuals, nonprofessionals giving complex expert advice, or persons with a known grudge against the plaintiff. We urge that a totality of the circumstances test be used in making the above determination as to whether the journalist’s reliance on the third party was reckless or inherently unreasonable.” Pataswathi v. De Smeth, 604 Mid. 280 (2008) Plaintiff, a well-known television interviewer, brought suit against a defendant blog that criticized plaintiff for “kissing up” to guests. The trial court dismissed, and the Midlands Supreme Court affirmed, because the evidence showed that the statements were, in fact, true. “Truth is always a defense to defamation claims.” Sea v. Lao, 612 Mid. 684 (2003) Plaintiff brought suit against defendant television network for reporting that plaintiff had erred in computing results of an intercollegiate scholastic competition. The Midlands State Supreme Court reversed the trial judge’s verdict for the plaintiff, finding that plaintiff had failed to show that the communication was of “defamatory character.” The Court explained that a statement is defamatory when it tends to (1) bring a person into public hatred, contempt or ridicule; (2) cause him to be shunned or avoided; or (3) injure him in his business or occupation.

Raja v. Midlands Gazette, 564 Mid. 566 (1985) Plaintiff, a renowned food critic, brought suit against the defendant newspaper for an article criticizing plaintiff as having “the worst taste in food in all of the United States, possibly even North America.” The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, but ultimately the Midlands Supreme Court reversed, holding that the plaintiff had failed to establish that the statement was a statement of fact, rather than an opinion. “Only statements of fact are actionable in a defamation cause of action. Mere opinion does not give rise to liability for defamation.” The Midlands Supreme Court did not state the standard for differentiating fact from opinion. Tygers v. Marriott, 612 Mid. 584 (2005). Plaintiff, a lifelong candidate for political office, brought a libel suit against his preacher for allegedly defamatory statements during a Sunday sermon about plaintiff’s supposed promiscuity. Defendant argued the publication element was not met because the congregation that heard the sermon was small in number, but the Court of Appeals rejected this argument. “It is well established that, in order to show publication for the purposes of a defamation claim, a plaintiff must only prove that defendant communicated the statement to someone other than the plaintiff.” Sprinkles, Inc., v. Cheesecake Corp., 5 Mid. 213 (1996). Plaintiff candy company sued defendant dessert manufacturer for allegedly libelous statements about the addictiveness of plaintiff’s products. Plaintiff conceded that the statements were literally true but argued that they were nonetheless misleading. The trial court dismissed the action because plaintiff failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted, but the Midlands Supreme Court reversed: “Literally true statements may be actionable if they imply false and defamatory statements of fact. For example, if a journalist highlights only certain facts in a news report, perhaps by omitting other relevant facts, or perhaps by juxtaposing their presentation such that an image antagonistic to the actual occurrence is conjured in the recipient’s mind, then that journalist may be liable for libel. Thus, in such a case, plaintiff is absolved of any burden of proof as to the traditional element of falsity related to defendant’s actual utterances; rather, she must prove merely that the defamatory implication itself is false.” Sour v. Bacon, 12 Mid. 668 (1994). After the defendant spread rumors that plaintiff was HIV-positive, plaintiff brought suit for defamation. The trial court dismissed the complaint because plaintiff had no proof of special harm. The Court of Appeals affirmed. But the Midlands Supreme Court reversed and remanded. “Generally, a plaintiff in a defamation case must prove harm (synonymous with special damages) by a preponderance of the evidence. But where the statements in question constitute defamation per se, the statements are so obviously harmful that damages are presumed and plaintiff need not introduce evidence demonstrating harm or injury. There are four categories of defamation per se: (1) imputations of serious criminal conduct; (2) allegations injurious to someone in her trade, occupation, profession, or business; (3) imputations of infectious or loathsome disease; and (4) imputations that a woman has been unchaste.” Acevedo v. Winnie, 344 Mid. 345 (2001). Plaintiff, a former military general and current eyebrow model, brought suit against a tabloid journalist that described Plaintiff’s driving as “so dangerous as to appear intoxicated.” The Midlands Supreme Court decided how the element of falsity should be evaluated in a defamation

lawsuit. “The law of Midlands, in addressing whether a plaintiff has proven ‘falsity’ for the purposes of a defamation cause of action, overlooks minor inaccuracies and concentrates upon substantial truth. It is sufficient if the substance of the charge be proved true, irrespective of slight inaccuracy in the details.” Jaroscak v. Jaroscak, 318 Mid. 662 (1986). The Midlands Supreme Court clarified the definition of “clear and convincing evidence”—the burden required to sustain the elements of falsity, defamatory character and actual malice in a suit for defamation. Plaintiff, a world-famous concert accordionist and all-purpose public figure, brought a defamation claim against her sister, also a concert accordionist, for allegedly libelous statements. The trial judge instructed the jury that “clear and convincing evidence” is evidence that “convinces the trier of fact that it is substantially more likely than not that the element in question is in fact true.” After a jury verdict for plaintiff, defendant appealed on the grounds that the jury instruction was not sufficiently clear—in particular, that no specific percentage of certainty was assigned. The Midlands Court of Appeals and Midlands Supreme Court affirmed. “The trial court’s definition of ‘clear and convincing evidence’ was proper. The quantum of proof necessary to satisfy this standard cannot be reduced to a mathematical figure. The clear and convincing standard is more rigorous than proof by a preponderance of the evidence but less rigorous than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Other trial courts have described the standards as ‘evidence that establishes a fact by a high probability’ and this formulation is also acceptable.” Bookin v. Ollman, 965 Mid. App. 972 (2004). Plaintiff, the nationally celebrated author of the column Romantic Liaisons in the Metropolis, filed a suit for defamation against defendant journalist, whose publication stated that the plaintiff’s columns “appeared strikingly (and perhaps problematically) similar” to those featured on a famous premium television program. The trial court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment and the Court of Appeals affirmed because the statement in question was non-actionable opinion. “In determining whether an allegedly defamatory statement is a fact or an opinion, the question is whether a reasonable factfinder could conclude that the statement implies an assertion of objective fact. We adopt the four-question test employed by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals for distinguishing fact from opinion. First, we ask does ‘the allegedly defamatory statement have a precise meaning likely to give rise to clear factual implications’? Some statements—such as accusations of crime—tend to have well-defined meanings; some statements—such as calling someone a ‘communist’—are more variously interpretable and may not give rise to liability for defamation because they do not convey fact. Second, ‘is the statement objectively capable of proof or disproof?’ If so, the statement is fact, not opinion. Third, does the context of the statement in the overall speech indicate that what would normally be a statement of fact is, in that context, more appropriately viewed as opinion? Fourth, does the broader social context of the speech indicate that the statement is fact or opinion? For example, information conveyed on an op-ed page comes across differently than information printed at the top of the front page.” Falcon v. Shortens, 612 Mid. App. 644 (2004). Defendant, a college professor, criticized plaintiff, a famous trial attorney, for using tactics and arguments that were no longer in vogue—specifically, defendant described plaintiff’s trial performance as “old hat.” Plaintiff brought suit for libel. The Midlands Court of Appeals

affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s claim on grounds that the statements were merely opinion. “An opinion is any broad, unfocused and wholly subjective comment. This does not turn on whether the publisher uses the expressions ‘in my opinion,’ ‘as a matter of fact,’ ‘it seems to me,’ etc. Instead, in deciding whether or not a statement is an opinion as a matter of law, the factfinder must place itself in the position of the hearer or reader, and determine the meaning of the statement according to its natural and popular construction. Midlands assesses whether statements are opinions or statements of fact by examining the totality of the circumstances with attention to the context of the statement.” Cockatoo v. Grease Magazine, 564 Mid. App. 514 (2004). Plaintiff, a celebrated professional poker player, brought a defamation suit against a periodical that stated that plaintiff “appeared high on some sort of drug or substance” during his appearance at the final table of a national poker tournament. The trial court dismissed the suit but the Midlands Court of Appeals reversed because “actual malice does not require ill will or hatred. Indeed, proof of such animosity could indicate the opposite, that the publisher possessed a genuine belief in the actionable statement. Of course, bias in combination with other factors, such as a departure from standard investigative techniques or an ‘accidental’ misrepresentation of gathered statements might be a strong step toward ‘actual malice.’ The public figure plaintiff, in many instances, will be able to compile compelling evidence that will cumulatively indicate the requisite degree of culpability on the defendant’s part. Indeed, the defendant’s bare assertions of belief in the truth of a publication cannot carry substantial weight unless they rest on similar direct or circumstantial evidence.” Davis v. Muscle Man Magzine, 732 Mid. App. 12 (2008). Plaintiff bodybuilder brought a defamation claim against a fitness magazine that called Plaintiff’s workout regimen “meek.” Plaintiff hired an accomplished journalism professor to testify at trial that defendant’s allegedly libelous conduct was preceded by violations of standard journalistic ethics and practices. Plaintiff argued that such evidence was probative as to whether defendant had acted with “actual malice” in reporting the crucial statement. The trial court excluded the proffered testimony, characterizing it as unfairly prejudicial. On appeal, the Midlands Court of Appeals reversed, holding that: “The ‘actual malice’ standard is a subjective one, in that the question which must be resolved is whether a particular defendant possessed a particular state of mind. ‘Bad journalism’ cannot be equated with ‘actual malice.’ Yet these standard industry practices exist for a reason, and that is because they are hallmarks of a thorough and honest news report. Parties are permitted to introduce expert journalistic evidence regarding accepted and preferred standards of journalism because deviation from such standards suggests a degree of carelessness. Extreme departure from general investigative standards can suffice for proof of reckless disregard. Of course, whether such carelessness reaches the level of recklessness is for the trier of fact to determine. In sum, while evidence of deviation or conformity to accepted industry standards of journalism is never dispositive in a defamation lawsuit, it is always relevant.” v. Cucumber, 338 Mid. App. 712 (2007). Plaintiff website brought claims against defendant for allegedly libelous statements made in an online forum. Defendant admitted at trial to having thought the statement was false at the time he made it, but introduced overwhelming evidence discovered after publication that the

statement was, coincidentally, true. The trial court ruled in favor of defendant, and plaintiff appealed. The Midlands Supreme Court affirmed, stating: “Defendant may have had little or no evidence suggesting that his statement was true at the time of publication, but nonetheless, true it was. As a matter of common sense, there can be no action based on ‘attempted libel.’ The published statement must be false, and not just apparently false at the time of publication. It follows that truth discovered after the fact, even during the litigation itself, is just as valid a defense as truth known at the time of publication.” Zakharov v. Siddique, 12 Mid. App. 565 (2001). Plaintiff business owner brought a slander lawsuit against a journalist for accusations that plaintiff was a member of a Russian crime syndicate. The trial judge bifurcated the trial into separate phases for liability and damages. The trial court excluded all evidence related to the plaintiff’s reputation, holding that such evidence was more appropriate for the damages phase of the trial but, on interlocutory appeal, the Midlands Court of Appeals reversed. “Where a trial has been bifurcated, then evidence offered may not be offered in the first phase for the sole purpose of establishing a fact or element at issue in the second phase. However, if evidence probative on an element at issue in the second phase also bears on an element at issue in the first, then such evidence is admissible in the first phase, as well. Here, evidence of the plaintiff’s reputation is admissible in the liability phase to the extent that it can be used to establish the defamatory nature of the communication, actual malice, or that the statement concerned the plaintiff. The fact that it also goes to the extent of harm suffered by the plaintiff—i.e., harm—does not preclude defendant from offering any reputational evidence at all.” Bryant v. Lion and Eagle Studios, 564 Mid. App. 567 (1998). Plaintiff, an award-winning thespian, filed a libel claim against defendant theater company that, after interviewing several fellow cast members, published statements that plaintiff had forgotten lines in multiple stage performances. The falsity of defendant’s statements was stipulated. At trial, defendant sought to introduce evidence that it believed the statements to be true. Plaintiff objected on grounds of relevance. The trial court sustained the objection and excluded the testimony. The Midlands Court of Appeals reversed. “A defendant’s honest belief that her statement is truthful is relevant when a public figure brings suit for defamation. It is probative on the issue of actual malice. Defendants in defamation suits should always be permitted to explain the basis for their statements and why they believed the statements to be true.” Howard v. Caspar, 341 Mid. App. 189 (2005). Defendant journalist, ghost-writing, reported that a public figure plaintiff fled the country after being charged with serving alcohol to minors. Plaintiff sued for defamation. In assessing whether actual malice had been proved based on a theory of reckless disregard for the truth, the Court of Appeals was guided by three sets of questions: “(1) How urgent was the news story? Was there enough time to check the facts? (2) How reliable was the source of the story? (3) Was the story probable, or so unlikely it demanded further investigation?” Nguyen v. Midlands Gazette, 298 Mid. App. 12 (2001). Defendant newspaper published a story that a certain world-famous movie actress was “late.” In the context of the article, the newspaper implied that the actress was pregnant, which was not true. Plaintiff brought suit for libel. The newspaper defended on the ground that the article

never explicitly mentioned the plaintiff by name, and that therefore the “of or concerning” requirement of Midlands Code section 73.001 had not been satisfied. The trial court dismissed but the Midlands Court of Appeal reversed. “A statement need not identify a plaintiff by name in order to be ‘of or concerning the plaintiff.’ If the statement identifies the plaintiff with such specificity that a reasonable reader of the statement’s intended or likely audience would recognize the statement to refer to the plaintiff, then the plaintiff has satisfied the ‘of or concerning’ requirement. In this case, the article identified several movies in which plaintiff had appeared and noted the prominent blonde streaks in plaintiff’s black hair, which was sufficient.” Bowden v. Johnson & Erickson LLP, 18 Mid. App. 45 (2007). Plaintiff employee filed suit for defamation after Defendant employer made comments that Plaintiff’s incompetence had caused the law firm severe losses. The trial court admitted evidence of the Plaintiff’s past poor job performance to show action in conformity therewith. The Midlands Court of Appeals reversed. “It is often said that a plaintiff who brings a claim for defamation necessarily places his or her character at issue. This statement, while correct, does not render propensity evidence admissible—that is, a defendant may not offer evidence of the plaintiff’s character for purposes of proving action in conformity therewith on a particular occasion simply because the case involves a defamation claim. The normal Rule 404(a) prohibitions still apply. However, in a defamation suit, the defendant may always introduce evidence of the plaintiff’s character insofar as it relates to the extent of harm suffered by the plaintiff. This is because Rule 405(b) permits evidence related to any element of a claim, and defamation claims require proof of harm to the plaintiff’s reputation.” Sun v. Kilaru, 566 Mid. 514 (2006). Plaintiff brought suit for defamation after defendant published a newspaper article accusing plaintiff of violent actions. At trial, defendant introduced expert testimony that plaintiff suffered from an anger management disorder, which was probative on the truth of the statement and the element of actual malice, since the journalist knew of the disorder at the time of publication. Plaintiff appealed on the grounds that the disorder constituted improper character evidence. The Midlands Supreme Court affirmed. “There is a split of authority as to whether a disorder, disease, syndrome or other such medical or mental affliction constitutes character evidence under the Rules of Evidence. We find that it generally does not. A defendant may introduce evidence of such afflictions as long as the prejudicial effect does not substantially outweigh the probative value. Moreover, in a defamation suit a defendant may introduce any evidence known to the defendant at the time of publication regardless any character, hearsay or any other evidentiary considerations. A defendant to a defamation suit has an unlimited right to introduce what he or she knew at the time of publication.”

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Decedent: Lane Hamilton Case No.: 1216 TFB 1946 Autopsy Date: 25 September 2006 Autopsy Time: 0745 hours Performed By: Donna Racheter, M.D., Chief Medical Examiner Assisted By: Read Langlois, M.D., Assistant Medical Examiner Present: Mickey McQuiggan, Death Investigator

EXTERNAL EXAMINATION IDENTIFICATION: The body is identified by driver’s license as “Lane Hamilton.” Coworkers confirmed this visually. CLOTHING AND EFFECTS: The body is clad in a black calf-length overcoat, gray scarf, black cloth gloves, black suit jacket and slacks, black leather belt, white shirt, red tie, white T shirt, gray boxer style under pants, a pair of black socks, and black dress shoes. Personal effects accompanying the body include a brown wallet with one credit card, $55.00 in paper money, driver’s license and various cards and papers. GENERAL DESCRIPTION: With the clothing removed and the body cleaned, it is that of a well developed, normally nourished, adult Caucasian male who appears to be compatible with the stated age of 46 years. The length is 5 feet 10 inches and weight as received is 200 pounds. The body is well preserved and has not been embalmed. The body is cool to touch and has been refrigerated for approximately six hours. Rigor mortis is fully fixed. Fixed purple livor mortis extends on the anterior face and posterior aspect of the body except in areas exposed to pressure. The scalp is covered by brown hair which measures to approximately 3 inches when straightened. The lower portion of the face, including over the upper lip, is covered by coarse brown hair approximately 1 inch in length. The irises are green and the pupils are bilaterally equal at 0.5 cm. The corneas are translucent. The sclera and conjunctiva are unremarkable. The nose and ears are not unusual. The teeth are natural and in good repair. The neck is symmetrical. The chest is well developed and symmetrical. The abdomen is flat and soft. The external genitalia are circumcised, adult male. The arms are symmetrical and normally

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formed. The back is straight and symmetrical. Identifying marks and scars include a 1 inch diagonal scar piercing the right eyebrow. There is moderate bruising on the lower chest and above the right ribs.

EXTERNAL EVIDENCE OF INJURY The injuries are numbered for orientation only. The number does not imply temporal sequence. 1. GUNSHOT WOUND EXTERNAL WOUND: Round entrance wound 3/8 inch in diameter is visible on the right side of the head, 3 inches below the top of the head and 4 inches right of the posterior midline. Wound consistent with 9mm bullet. Coarse gunpowder stippling is present around parts of the wound, between ¼ inch and ¾ inches in radius from the entrance defect. Other areas surrounding the wound show no stippling. No soot deposition is visible around the defect. The hemorrhagic wound track sequentially perforates the scalp, bone, right parietal (through the right thalamus) lobe, left parietal (through the left thalamus) lobe, bone, and scalp. Associated with the entrance wound in the scalp is an inward beveled entrance gunshot bone defect with a linear fracture radiating from the defect through the right calvarium. Associated with the exit wound in left parietal scalp is an outward beveled exit gunshot bone defect in the left parietal bone. Around the cerebrum is diffuse liquid subdural hemorrhage and diffuse subarachnoid hemorrhage. On the left parietal scalp 2 inches below the top of the head and 3 inches left of posterior midline is an exit gunshot wound consisting of a 2-inch stellate laceration without marginal abrasion. COURSE OF BULLET: Relative to erect body, the bullet passed from right to left, front to back at an angle of approx. 85 degrees, below to above. This is consistent with victim placing gun against right temple and firing, or with being shot from side. 2. Over the upper abdomen and lower chest, moderate bruising is present. There are no correlating lacerations or cutaneous defects.

INTERNAL EXAMINATION BODY CAVITIES: No adhesions or abnormal fluid collections are in any body cavities. All body organs are present in normal anatomic position. The subcutaneous fat layer of the abdominal wall is 3 cm. thick. HEAD and NECK: The brain weighs 1520 grams. There is gunshot trauma to the brain with associated subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhages as previously noted. The cerebral hemispheres are symmetrical. The structures at the base of the brain, including cranial nerves and blood vessels are without non-

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traumatic abnormalities. The cerebral ventricles are of normal caliber. Sections through the brain stem and cerebellum are unremarkable. Neck, including strap muscles and large vessels, shows no abnormalities. The cartilaginous and bony structures are intact.

ORGAN SYSTEMS: CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM: The heart weighs 360 grams and has its normal shape. The pericardium is smooth and glistening. The coronary arteries arise and follow the usual distribution of right dominance, showing no atherosclerosis. The chambers and valves bear the usual size/position relationship and are unremarkable. The myocardium is reddish-brown and firm; the atrial septum and ventricular septum are intact. The aorta follows its usual course with no atherosclerosis. The great vessels of venous return are unremarkable. RESPIRATORY SYSTEM: The right and left lungs weigh 430 and 380 grams respectively. The larynx, trachea, and bronchi are unremarkable. The lungs are firm, subcrepitant, and the pleura has a diffuse petechial surface. Cut surfaces are moist. The pulmonary parenchyma is dark red and exudes moderate amounts of blood and frothy fluid. The pulmonary arteries are normally developed and patent. LIVER AND BILIARY SYSTEM: The liver weighs 1500 grams. The hepatic capsule is smooth, glistening and intact, covering a red-brown parenchyma. The gall bladder contains viscid bile. GASTRO-INTESTINAL TRACT: The esophagus is unremarkable. The stomach mucosa is intact and continuous with an unremarkable duodenum. The small and large intestines are unremarkable. The appendix is present. The pancreas has a normal pink to tan lobulated appearance, and the ducts are clear. URINARY SYSTEM: The kidneys weigh 120 grams each. They have their normal shape and the capsules strip with ease revealing smooth external surfaces. Cut surfaces show the usual architecture. The pelvis and ureters are unremarkable. The urinary bladder contains 20 ml of urine. INTERNAL GENITALIA: The prostate and testes are unremarkable. RETICULOENDOTHELIAL SYSTEM:

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The spleen weighs 120 grams and has a smooth intact dark red-purple capsule covering a red- purple moderately firm parenchyma. ENDOCRINE SYSTEM: The pituitary, thyroid, adrenals, and pancreas are unremarkable. MUSCULOSKELETAL SYSTEM: The 7th rib on the right side has been fractured. No other fractures have been identified. The bone marrow where visualized is unremarkable. The bony framework, supporting musculature, and soft tissues are not generally unusual.


X-ray film of head reveals no radio-opaque objects consistent with a bullet or bullet fragments.

MICROSCOPIC EXAMINATION: Nuclear streaming of epidermal nuclei consistent with entrance abrasion. No particles consistent with soot are identified. No pathological diagnosis in heart, lungs or kidney. Acute subarachnoid hemorrhage in brain.


The decedent died of a gunshot wound to the head. The manner of death is consistent with both homicide and suicide. Neither manner can be ruled out or confirmed based on the autopsy alone. Autopsy revealed a gunshot wound of the head. The entrance was through the right parietal bone, directly above the ear. The bullet passed through the brain and exited through the left parietal bone on a trajectory most consistent with right-handed firearm suicide. There was also a broken rib and bruising on the right side, possibly indicating improperly performed CPR or other recent indeterminate blunt force trauma. Toxicology tests revealed the low concentrations of sertraline hydrochloride, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, administered as a prescription anti-depressant under various brands.


Dr. Donna Racheter Chief Medical Examiner

Leslie Richards

123 Shrink Road • Midlands City, Midlands • (555) 344 – 3883 • Abbreviated Curriculum Vitae EDUCATION:

Loyola University Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, 1987 Pace University Medical Degree, Psychiatry, 1993

WORK EXPERIENCE: Gelfand Impulse Control Clinic, St. Paul, Minnesota 1993–1999 Staff psychiatrist Richards & Caironi Mental Health LLC, Midlands City, Midlands 1999–present Private Practitioner, Officer Manager


• Anger Management Therapists Association • American Psychiatric Association • American Board of Mental Health Practitioners • International Mental Health Specialists Association

PUBLICATIONS (representative):

• “The Napoleon Complex,” AMTA Survey, 2003, co-written with Dr. Scot Tumes. • “Giving Back: An Examination of the Psychology of Altruism,” AMTA Survey, 2004,

co-written with R. Clampett. • “Diagnosing Depression and Impulse Control Disorder: The Confusing Issue of

Profiling,” Midlands Review, 2009, co-written with Drs. C. Caironi and A. Rubenstein.


2637 Regent St # 102 • Berkeley, CA 94704 • (555) 344 – 3185 • Abbreviated Curriculum Vitae EDUCATION:

Northwestern University Bachelor of Arts, Journalism, 1973 University of Missouri-Columbia Master of Arts, Journalism, 1976

FACULTY POSITIONS (recent): University of California, Berkeley—Y. Shirinian Professor of Journalism 2000–present University of Tokyo—visiting professor 1998 McGill University—M. Smith Professor of Journalism 1996–2000 Emory University—visiting professor 1994 Oxford University—E. Christensen Professor of Journalism 1991–1996 New York University—visiting professor 1990


• Radio-Television News Directors Association • British Broadcasting Corporation • Society of Professional Journalists


• Francis Leo Award for Excellence in Journalism, 2003 • Maureen Kingsley Award for Promoting Ethical Journalism, 2001

PUBLICATIONS (representative):

• “Thorny Issues: How the Media Mishandled the Ashley Thornhill Trial,” New Republic, 2002.

• “No Harmony: An Examination of the Journalism Surrounding the Vicki and Michael Harmon Divorce,” AMTA Survey, 2004.

• “Without Merritt: How a University Professor Wrongly Used Her Position to Vilify a Company That May Have Killed Her Husband,” Sherpa Publications, 2001.

SUBJECTS TAUGHT (representative):

• Journalistic Ethics • Media Coverage of Crimes and Investigations • Sources: Anonymity, Attribution, and Assistance

Blitz News Network M E M O R A N D U M

TO: Kit Berkshire FROM: Fran Martin DATE: September 25, 2006 SUBJECT: September 24, 2006 BNN Coverage of Lane Hamilton Death

Last evening, at approximately 10:05 pm, I had a telephone conversation with BNN reporter Reagan Thomas (“Thomas”). I took careful notes during my telephone conversation with Thomas. Those notes were helpful in preparing this memorandum. Thomas wanted to interrupt our broadcast of the Oski Awards with a live broadcast from the Midlands Civic Center. Lane Hamilton (“Hamilton”) had been found dead, the apparent victim of a gunshot wound. Thomas wanted to deliver a news report that Drew Walton (“Walton”) was the likely shooter. I refused Thomas’s request and told Thomas not to run that story. Our telephone conversation lasted approximately five minutes. 1. UNDERLYING EVIDENCE I was not present at the Midlands Civic Center on Sunday, September 24, 2006. All of the information on which I based my decision came from Reagan Thomas. Thomas briefly described the people with whom Thomas spoke, as well as Thomas’s own firsthand observations:

A. Personal Observations Thomas heard two gunshots and after which saw Hamilton lying motionless in the Civic Center parking lot. Thomas saw Walton kneeling beside and touching Hamilton’s body. Thomas approached Walton and Walton’s hands went up “as if guilty.”

B. Interviews Thomas spoke with a police captain and some sort of detective. I do not know whether this person was a homicide detective or a forensic investigator. The police captain said that the gun used to kill Hamilton belonged to Walton and that Walton had volunteered to go to the police precinct to answer more questions. The detective indicated only that the situation “does not look good for Drew Walton.” Thomas reported speaking with exactly two eyewitnesses. Harley Kim, a BNN photojournalist, saw Walton draw a gun on Hamilton after Hamilton made a derogatory statement about Walton’s father. Kim then went to the BNN truck to get camera equipment and, at that point, heard two gunshots fired.

Thomas also spoke with Walton’s personal assistant, who told Thomas that the shooting appeared to be a suicide. The personal assistant indicated that s/he could not see very well because it was poorly lighted and s/he was only looking through a car’s rearview mirror. Thomas did not indicate speaking with Jan Patel, a Civic Center janitor quoted heavily (since the shooting) on several reputable websites and in national newspapers. Patel claims to have seen the shooting in its entirety. Patel claims that Hamilton committed suicide with a gun. 2. ANALYSIS Thomas’s personal observations are not persuasive of Walton’s guilt or involvement in Hamilton’s death. Thomas did not witness the shooting. Thomas’s description is consistent with a scenario in which Walton was trying to help Hamilton or check for a pulse. The information from police sources is inconclusive. The fact that Walton’s gun was used to kill Hamilton definitely suggests that Walton was not just a bystander, but it does not mean that Walton was responsible. The comment about the situation not looking good for Walton could just as easily mean that this undermines Walton’s political position on gun control. Both facts— the gun ownership and the detective’s quote—are appropriate for broadcast. But neither fact substantiates that Walton shot Hamilton. The eyewitness evidence is likewise inconclusive. Thomas spoke with two eyewitnesses, one of which indicates a murder and the other of which indicates a suicide. Thomas also appears not to have interviewed eyewitness Jan Patel, although I did not know this at the time I made the decision not to allow Thomas to run the story that Walton was responsible for Hamilton’s death. In retrospect, I failed to adequately consider Walton’s history. I was aware of Walton’s repeated assault convictions and famous temper. I was also aware how close Walton was with Walton’s deceased father. I probably underestimated the likelihood of Walton reacting angrily in the face of a negative remark about Walton’s father. 3. CONCLUSION All told, I believe that I made the correct decision to kill Thomas’s story. Perhaps I should have taken a more middle-of-the-road approach by permitting Thomas to state the facts supporting the notion that Walton had shot Hamilton, but not permitting Thomas to state the conclusion that Walton had shot Hamilton. Ultimately, however, I was convinced by the other media reports. No other network was reporting that Walton was involved and I was worried about being the first, or only, media outlet to make such an accusation.

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Martin, Fran To: Reagan Thomas From: Fran Martin Date: Sunday, September 24, 2006 8:45 PM Midlands Standard Time Re: Re: Walton Interview Questions R, your questions will go over the heads of our audience. Stick to the Blitz Basics: who are you dating, how did you lose all the weight, tell us what it was like spending the night in prison after being arrested for ___, etc. F —–Original Message—– To: Fran Martin From: Reagan Thomas Sent: Sunday, September 24, 2006, 8:22 PM Midlands Standard Time Re: Walton Interview Questions Fran, these are the questions I plan to ask Walton after the debate. Just double- checking for your Okay. How are you going to improve the Midlands economy? (follow-up question on minimum wage legislation) How would you have responded differently to the recent teachers’ strike? Why are you running for governor? Why not mayor or city council, etc. where you can get some experience? What is your opinion on gay marriage? How is your position on gun control affected by the fact that you’ve received more contributions from pro-firearm lobbyists than any others?

Blitz News Network Official Press Release September 25, 2006, 10:24 PM Midlands Standard Time On September 24, 2006, during a live broadcast, BNN journalist Reagan Thomas made statements about the tragic death of Lane Hamilton. Some of those statements concerned gubernatorial candidate Drew Walton’s possible involvement in Mr. Hamilton’s death. In light of new evidence issued recently by the Midlands Police, BNN wishes to retract the statement that “all evidence” points to the conclusion that Drew Walton fatally shot Mr. Hamilton. BNN stands by its other statements, as all were founded on credible sources and reliable information. BNN remains committed to providing accurate and timely news on all issues of interest to its audience, including the untimely death of Lane Hamilton. –Kit Berkshire, President of Blitz News Network

Revised 3/1/2009

Analysis of Adherence to Ethical Standards of Journalism Expert: Riley Faith Case: Drew Walton v. Blitz News Network (“BNN”), Midlands State Court Subject: BNN September 24, 2006 live broadcast concerning Lane Hamilton death Hire Date: February 23, 2007 Report Date: April 10, 2007 I have assessed the extent to which BNN adhered to ethical standards of journalism during its September 24, 2006 live broadcast from the Midlands Civic Center. The parties in this lawsuit have supplied me with exactly eleven documents: the affidavits of Reagan Thomas, Fran Martin, Kit Berkshire, Harley Kim, Mickey McQuiggan, Leslie Richards and Jan Patel; a DVD copy and paper transcript of the broadcast made by BNN on September 24, 2006 from the Midlands Civic Center; the September 25, 2006 memorandum by Fran Martin; and the Kit Berkshire press release of September 25, 2006. I am also aware of the news coverage provided by other media networks on the subject of Lane Hamilton’s death; I became aware of such coverage prior to my being hired in this matter. For reasons outlined in my accompanying affidavit, I did not conduct any interviews in this case. A. Conflict of Interest In this case, I saw nothing to indicate a bias or conflict of interest on the part of Reagan Thomas, the BNN correspondent who reported live from the scene of the death. Although Thomas did appear irritated with Drew Walton when Walton refused to answer Thomas’s questions after the debate, this was a minor irritation, and did not appear to influence Thomas’s journalism in any way. Reporters are used to sources who refuse to speak with the media. I do, however, have significant concerns with Thomas’s motivations for the timing of the broadcast; Thomas appears to have been overly focused on breaking a big story to improve Thomas’s career and less on reporting the truth. But it is unclear whether this actually affected the broadcast’s content of the live report. Kit Berkshire does appear to have a conflict of interest in this case. Berkshire contributed to the political campaign of Walton’s opponent. Berkshire has a long adversarial history with the Walton family, although Berkshire’s relationship with Drew Walton, the subject of BNN’s broadcast, is less clear. It is definitely possible that Berkshire’s actions on September 24, 2006 were motivated in part by a grudge against the Walton family. However, this possibility is diminished by Berkshire’s reminder that Thomas not overstate the facts. B. Investigation In this case, Reagan Thomas’s investigation, however brief, certainly had its strengths. Thomas obtained same-day information from Walton’s former therapist, Dr. Richards. Thomas asked some excellent probing questions of Richards, but seems overly focused on getting negative information about Walton. Thomas spoke with three available eyewitnesses and, after reading much about this incident, I am unaware of any other eyewitnesses to the shooting. Thomas also interviewed two police officials—the Midlands police captain and a crime scene investigator. These were probably the best two police sources to interview: one was the spokesman for the police squad and the ranking officer on scene, and the other was the lead

Revised 3/1/2009

forensic investigator. The thoroughness of Thomas’s questioning of the photojournalist, the personal assistant, and the police captain appears to have been sufficient, at least when considering that these interviews were likely preliminary. Yet Thomas’s investigation was far from perfect. Thomas too quickly dismissed the janitor, Jan Patel, as a source. Patel was claiming firsthand knowledge that contradicted another eyewitness’s observations. Yet Thomas’s own affidavit indicates that Thomas asked no questions of Patel. Thomas defends this failure to question Patel by the fact that Patel seemed to want attention. Thomas is correct that a journalist should always question a source’s motivation, and the desire to achieve fame is an acceptable basis to discount a source’s observations. Reporters, especially TV reporters, are frequently approached by “less than competent” sources who have little or no information but a great desire to simply be on TV. But Thomas’s other two reasons for ignoring Patel are questionable at best. I also think that Thomas should have asked more questions of the police detective. The biggest shortcoming of Thomas’s investigation was the failure to attend Drew Walton’s press conference after the shooting. There is no excuse for the deliberate failure to listen to the subject’s version of events. However, just because Reagan Thomas ignored the Drew Walton press conference does not mean that BNN ignored the press conference. Kit Berkshire watched the press conference via a separate feed before giving permission for Thomas to run the story. Because the affidavits and other documents discuss little about the phone conversation between Berkshire and Thomas, I don’t know the extent to which Berkshire incorporated information from that press conference into Thomas’s live report. C. Publication There are two reasons why it is difficult to evaluate the appropriateness of BNN’s September 24, 2006 broadcast concerning the death of Lane Hamilton. First, so much of what makes a story well-founded or ill-founded cannot be understood without firsthand experience. I was not there at the Civic Center when Reagan Thomas spoke to the eyewitnesses and police officials. I cannot say whether they seemed believable. I cannot say whether their tone was serious or sarcastic, certain or doubtful. Much is lost in translation and, as I have relied on written documents, translation is all I have. Second, the documents upon which I relied are not entirely consistent. Martin, Berkshire, Kim, Thomas, and Patel give different accounts of their communications among one another. For example, Harley Kim’s description of the events surrounding the shooting differs from what Reagan Thomas said that Kim told Thomas; Fran Martin received a recount of Kim’s observations that differs further; likewise, Berkshire appears to have received a slightly different account of what Kim saw. Given the information at my disposal, it is impossible to determine, precisely who said what to whom, and yet such a determination is necessary to fully assess the validity and appropriateness of the BNN broadcast at issue in this lawsuit. Those difficulties aside, I have several misgivings about the BNN statement concerning Lane Hamilton’s death. The report contains inflammatory language, such as “gunned down,” “whipped out” and “crime.” While this is language that is increasingly favored nowadays by news directors and news marketing consultants to give broadcasts more “punch,” it is also language that lacks optimal objectivity. The broadcast also fails to identify the names of Reagan

Revised 3/1/2009

Thomas’s sources. It fails to identify that Thomas’s eyewitness sources provided somewhat contradictory observations. In fact, the only eyewitness that Thomas specifically identifies is Thomas. This, and the fact that Thomas makes such a point of mentioning that “BNN is the first to report the even more shocking news,” makes me seriously question Thomas’s judgment and motivation in running the story. Ultimately, though, the key question in this matter is whether it was ethical and/or appropriate to make the statements against Walton. In my opinion, the statement that “all evidence points to Drew Walton as having shot Professor Hamilton” is stated too strongly. Given the varying eyewitness accounts, the quickness of the investigation, and Walton’s explanation of suicide, I do not think that “all evidence” actually pointed to Walton guilt. However, several factors reduce the obvious shortcomings in BNN’s statement. Thomas’s broadcast blurs the line between fact and opinion. While generally it is preferable to have a clearer line between fact and opinion, in this case that blur lessens the impact of any misstatement by BNN. It is unclear the extent to which the conclusion of Walton’s involvement is based primarily on Thomas’s personal observations or on the eyewitness accounts or on information supplied by the police. Thus, it is unclear whether the conclusion regarding Walton’s involvement is offered as fact or as Thomas’s opinion. Certainly, Thomas and BNN should have been clearer; but lack of clarity reduces the likelihood that the statement is patently false. BNN also reduced any overstatement with phrases like “it appears,” “possible involvement,” “uncertainty,” and “may be.” D. Correction I applaud BNN for retracting the statement based on new evidence—here, the police announcement that the cause of death was suicide. A retraction does not necessarily imply that the original news report was not fully investigated or that the journalist has done something wrong. Often a retraction means a source proved unreliable information, or someone other than the journalist erred. Especially in breaking news situations, even “official” sources frequently disseminate incorrect information to reporters. In this case, though, I must wonder whether the announcement provided a convenient excuse for retracting a statement of questionable origin. E. Conclusion The motivation of two BNN principals—Reagan Thomas and Kit Berkshire—is not altogether clear. Thomas appears overly motivated by career advancement, Berkshire appears overly motivated by settling a score, and both appear too focused on being first with the story— but it is impossible to know if any of those motivations actually affected the substance of the broadcast that night. Thus, I must focus instead on whether the statement was justified. The broadcast was not a model of journalistic excellence with respect to evidence, clarity or attribution. In my view, it was quite typical of modern TV journalism in its departure from traditional standards for content and form. Whether it was legally problematic—that is, whether BNN personnel acted with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of their subject matter—is a question beyond my capability to answer. I was not there that night and the documents that I was given have too many contradictions for me to fully evaluate BNN’s conduct.

Blitz News Network M E M O R A N D U M

TO: All Blitz News Network Employees FROM: Kit Berkshire DATE: January 1, 2004 SUBJECT: BNN Standards for Responsible Journalism

I could not be more excited to join you in this incredible challenge: reshaping an entertainment television station into a premier international news organization. As we cover the world’s news—everything from those events that affect people only in their cities and townships, to those events that transform nations and generations—the highest standards of our profession shall serve as our guiding light:

Thoroughness It is more important to be thorough than it is to be memorable. We will seek all sources. We will seek sources from every side of a story. We will interview and investigate every source as thoroughly as we can. Accuracy It is more important to be right than it is to be first. We will distinguish reliable sources from unreliable sources, and reliable information from unreliable information. We will verify the information our sources provide. We will report only what we have reason to believe is true. Fairness It is more important to be fair than it is to be remarkable. We will report objectively. We will publish balanced stories that capture the complexity of an event. We will place facts in context.

As journalists, we hold enormous power to shape public opinion and discourse. Such power requires that we follow the ideals described above. Together, we have the opportunity to report the news of our time. Let us do so with curiosity and candor. K.B.

Revised 9/24/2008

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After being duly sworn upon oath, Kit Berkshire hereby deposes and states as follows: 2

My name is Kit Berkshire. I was born in 1952. I live at 218 East 96th St. in New York, 3

New York. I graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism from Swarthmore College, and 4

thereafter completed a joint degree program with Harvard’s Law School and Business School. 5

I’ve since held a variety of journalistic positions, including field reporter, news anchor, and 6

network legal analyst. I chose to switch over to the business side of broadcasting about twenty 7

years ago. In 1995, I was named News Director for United Broadcasting Company (“UBC”). At 8

the time, UBC had the tenth most profitable news programming on American television. By the 9

time I left UBC, our news department had moved up to second place. 10

In late 2003, I became President of Blitz News Network (“BNN”). BNN used to be Blitz 11

Television Station (“Blitz TV”), a mid-major channel known for game shows, reality TV, 12

syndicated shows, and talk shows. Blitz TV had virtually no news department other than a single 13

show that recapped the week’s biggest stories from Hollywood. Blitz TV’s ownership group had 14

decided to change direction in anticipation of the profits associated with covering the 2004 15

election season, and changed its name to Blitz News Network. But transforming an 16

entertainment television channel into a respected news source requires more than a name change. 17

That’s why BNN hired me. BNN offered me an annual salary of $10 million, plus 18

considerable stock options, and I decided to accept the challenge of bringing credibility to BNN 19

without sacrificing its entertainment value. Since my arrival, BNN has increased its ratings by 20

fifty percent while simultaneously improving its journalistic reputation. I think my January 1, 21

2004 memorandum set the tone for our excellence. In that memo, I laid out the journalistic 22

standards to which Blitz would always adhere—standards on par with the most respected news 23

Revised 9/24/2008

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outfits in the world. The standards described in my January 1, 2004 memo remain BNN’s 24

standards for all reports, publications, and broadcasts. 25

Of course, not everyone has agreed with my methods. In 1989, when I was a field 26

reporter for UBC, the company was sued for libel based on my story about cheating in collegiate 27

athletics. The case settled out of court. In 1993, as a UBC producer, I produced a story accusing 28

certain tobacco companies of marketing their products specifically to minors. One company 29

sued for libel and the jury found UBC liable, but awarded minimal damages. From 1995 to 30

2004, when I served as News Director for UBC, the network was sued for defamation more 31

times than any other American television network. Most of those lawsuits were dropped or 32

dismissed; some settled out of court; six went to trial; and of those six, only two included libel 33

verdicts against UBC. During my time as UBC news director, Gerald Walton brought three libel 34

lawsuits against UBC and won one. 35

This Drew Walton defamation lawsuit is absurd. First, the evidence regarding what 36

happened on September 24, 2006 is not at all certain. I understand that the police ruled it a 37

suicide, but I still think Walton had something to do with Lane Hamilton’s death. Regardless, 38

BNN didn’t do anything wrong. Reagan Thomas’s live broadcast was perfectly responsible 39

given what Reagan knew at the time. Now Walton’s lawsuit has already cost BNN millions of 40

dollars in legal fees and it’s hurt our stock value. I know if we somehow lose this lawsuit, it will 41

cost every shareholder dearly. I also hear rumors that if BNN is found liable in this Walton 42

defamation lawsuit, the company may look to replace me as President. I don’t worry about these 43

things, though, since they’re just rumors and, besides, I know BNN did nothing wrong. 44

I was very much looking forward to the September 24, 2006 debate between Drew 45

Walton and Midlands University Professor Lane Hamilton. I was confident that an esteemed 46

Revised 9/24/2008

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academic and experienced debater would crush Walton in a gun control debate and destroy 47

Walton’s gubernatorial run on national television. Some have wondered why I poured such 48

heavy resources into our debate coverage. I had several reasons. BNN covers celebrities and 49

Drew Walton is a major celebrity. Our audience can’t get enough of Walton. We weren’t going 50

to air the debate, just the post-debate press conference. I also expected Walton to lose the debate 51

and the governor’s race. At that point, Walton would return to being the sort of vapid, 52

superficial celebrity that represents what BNN is all about. Besides, it wasn’t like we really 53

invested that much in the debate coverage. I had Fran Martin producing, and Fran is hardly one 54

of our better producers; I had Harley Kim on camera, and I’ve heard Kim has a drinking 55

problem. Reagan Thomas was the only star member on the team covering the debate. 56

On September 24, 2006, BNN was televising its biggest event of the year, the Oski 57

Awards. I was watching the Hamilton-Walton debate. I had donated significant money to the 58

gubernatorial campaign of Walton’s opponent, Neal McGivern. My spouse and I had each 59

maxed out our allowable contribution. I had the popcorn out and was ready for Hamilton to 60

crush Walton. But instead it was Walton who dominated the debate by citing statistics and 61

providing relevant examples. Hamilton just became more and more frustrated. By the end, it 62

was clear to me that Walton’s charisma was going to win the Governorship 63

I acknowledge that I’ve never been especially fond of the Walton family’s politics or 64

tactics. I knew the late Gerald Walton, former Midlands governor and longtime chairman of the 65

House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Back in 1999, Gerald Walton led a Committee 66

investigation into increased violence and sensationalism in television news. Walton decided to 67

make UBC the poster child. He hauled me before Congress with a subpoena in 1999 and grilled 68

me for several hours. He ambushed me with several statements from UBC employees who had 69

Revised 9/24/2008

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testified privately that I had ordered that certain news reports be exaggerated to increase ratings. 70

It was the low point of my career. 71

As UBC News Director, some accused me of carrying an anti-Walton bias. It’s true that 72

UBC was the network that exposed Gerald Walton’s affair with a staff member, and it was UBC 73

that broke the story about Gerald Walton’s kickbacks from Midlands businessmen. And in 2002, 74

we were also the first major network to report that Drew Walton had checked into the Borello 75

Anger Management Clinic in Greenwich Village, New York—apparently, Drew Walton had 76

thrown some heavy household objects at the some family servants. But these news reports don’t 77

indicate a bias on my part; they indicate vigilance for truth. I knew that Gerald Walton had no 78

scruples, and I knew that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. As a journalist, it is my job to 79

make sure the public knows the true character of its leaders and role models. I don’t apologize 80

for tarnishing the Walton legacy—I was only reporting the truth. 81

That’s the same standard that guided me on September 24, 2006. After the debate ended 82

at about 9:30, I poured myself a stiff drink and watched as pundits fawned over Drew Walton. 83

One of the more respected UBC commentators said, “Drew Walton just silenced every concern 84

about inexperience and knowledge of the issues. Walton is going to win the governor’s race 85

without breaking a sweat. I expect that by 2012 Drew Walton will be a presidential contender.” 86

The thought of Walton reaching the White House made me contemplate a second scotch. 87

All of a sudden, the UBC anchor interrupted her guest commentator and announced a 88

late-breaking story from the Midlands Civic Center—Professor Lane Hamilton had just been 89

found shot in the head, almost certainly dead. I flipped to BNN, where we were still showing the 90

silly Oski Awards. I called Fran Martin and said, “We have a reporter at the Civic Center. We 91

should be running this story. Let’s see if Drew Walton is involved.” I kept flipping channels. 92

Revised 9/24/2008

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Every network was saying the same thing: Hamilton had been shot, Walton claims it was a 93

suicide, and it’s too early to draw any sort of conclusion. At about 10:10, I got a call from 94

Reagan Thomas. Most field reporters don’t have my personal number, but when I had assigned 95

Reagan to cover the Walton debate, I gave Reagan my number. I wanted to make sure Reagan 96

had every resource necessary to expose Walton. As usual, my instincts proved right. 97

Reagan told me that Reagan wanted to run a story indicating that there was evidence that 98

Drew Walton shot Lane Hamilton, but said that Fran Martin killed the story. I asked Reagan the 99

basis for Reagan’s story. I wanted BNN to break the story about Walton’s involvement—our 100

ratings and rankings would go through the roof, which was good for BNN and good for me. 101

Still, I wasn’t going to have BNN accuse a gubernatorial candidate of murder without sufficient 102

proof. I’m an attorney, so I know libel law cold. With struggling financial numbers in 103

September 2006, the last thing we needed was a major lawsuit. 104

During our September 24 phone conversation, Reagan told me every detail Reagan had 105

learned at the Civic Center, and I have included every such detail here. Reagan personally 106

observed Walton right beside the body moments after two shots were fired. Reagan said that no 107

one else was nearby the body—just Walton. Reagan reported three eyewitnesses who saw at 108

least part of the events. They all confirmed that Walton had pulled a gun on Hamilton after 109

Hamilton made a derogatory reference about Gerald Walton. Reagan said that while the 110

eyewitness accounts differed, the most reliable source—Harley Kim, our photojournalist—told a 111

story that strongly suggested it was a Walton murder, not a Hamilton suicide. Reagan 112

acknowledged that Walton’s personal assistant saw parts of the event from a poor vantage point 113

and thought Walton was innocent. And Reagan mentioned that some star-crazed janitor said it 114

was a suicide. Reagan also said that one police officer indicated that the circumstances of the 115

Revised 9/24/2008

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shooting made it look bad for Walton, and another officer indicated that the gun that inflicted the 116

fatal wound was Drew Walton’s gun. 117

I put all of this together and told Reagan to run the story but not to overstate the facts. I 118

called the BNN station and gave the green light to interrupt the broadcast with Reagan Thomas’s 119

live report. I listened with delight as Reagan broke the major news story of 2006. I re-watched 120

the two-minute broadcast about ten times, both because I loved the accusation against Drew 121

Walton and because I wanted to make sure that Reagan Thomas never crossed the line. 122

Why did I give Reagan Thomas the green light to run a story implying that Drew Walton 123

might be responsible for Hamilton’s death? I didn’t do it because of a grudge against the Walton 124

family. I did it because that was the conclusion justified by the facts that Reagan presented 125

during our September 24, 2006 phone conversation. Drew Walton was the only person near the 126

body immediately after the shooting. It was Walton’s gun. Walton is known for having a 127

temper and known for being set off by comments about Walton’s father, Gerald. Harley Kim’s 128

account places the gun in Walton’s hands moments before the shooting. I watched Drew 129

Walton’s impromptu parking lot press conference, so I knew Walton was claiming that Hamilton 130

committed suicide. But if it was really suicide, there wouldn’t have been two shots. 131

I know Reagan has been criticized for several things related to the September 24, 2006 132

broadcast. Reagan probably should have questioned the janitor and Reagan probably should 133

have listened to Drew Walton’s parking lot press conference. But each of these decisions is 134

defensible. As a reporter, you have to make judgment calls about which sources to believe, and 135

Reagan found the janitor unreliable. You also have to allocate your time properly—that’s why 136

Reagan’s decision to skip the Walton question-and-answer session was reasonable. Reagan 137

chose to interview eyewitnesses in an effort to get the real story. In assessing Reagan’s actions, I 138

Revised 9/24/2008

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ask myself what I would have done were I in Reagan Thomas’s or Fran Martin’s shoes that 139

night. I’ve spent more than fifteen years reporting and producing. I would have done exactly 140

what Reagan did (though I obviously would not have done what Fran Martin did). 141

Of course, when the police ruled the shooting a suicide on September 25, 2006, I issued a 142

limited retraction on BNN’s website. Some might call this an admission that we were wrong to 143

air Reagan Thomas’s September 24, 2006 broadcast. But our retraction is another example of 144

BNN acting responsibly under my leadership. The facts we knew on September 24 indicated 145

that Drew Walton had killed Lane Hamilton, so we reported just that. When the facts we knew 146

changed the next day, we did not hesitate to update our report and retract our earlier statements. 147

BNN has also been criticized for airing the supposedly accusatory broadcast too soon; 148

some say we should have waited until we had more information. Yes, it’s possible that the story 149

might have been more accurate if Reagan had waited longer and interviewed more eyewitnesses 150

and police authorities. But as a journalist, you have to balance thoroughness against speediness. 151

The public has a right to know important news immediately. Reagan’s disclaimer about still 152

waiting for many answers sufficiently disclosed that the investigation was ongoing. 153

The person who did not act appropriately during this entire episode was producer Fran 154

Martin, who wrote a memo detailing Martin’s justification for refusing to allow Reagan Thomas 155

to run the broadcast. When I read that memorandum, I was furious. First, how could Martin be 156

so stupid as to put those thoughts in print and expose BNN to liability? Second, Martin admits to 157

overlooking Walton’s history of violence and that a more “middle-of-the-road approach” would 158

have been better than killing the story. But my biggest frustration comes from the end of the 159

memo, where Martin says, “No other network was reporting that Walton was involved and I was 160

worried about being the first, or only, media outlet to make such an accusation.” When you run 161

Revised 9/24/2008

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a news network, you want to be the first to break a story, both for reasons of journalism and 162

profitability. The fact that Martin was reluctant to be the first to air a report shows Martin is not 163

cut out for national news. So I transferred Martin to our Alaska division permanently. The 164

attorneys said it would be easier than firing Martin. 165

As for Drew Walton, well, Walton got what was coming. The huge lead in the 166

gubernatorial polls evaporated overnight and Walton lost the election. I suppose the suspicion of 167

murder will do that. Now Walton is back to being famous for being famous, and the country can 168

rely on leaders offering more than mere glib answers and made-for-TV smiles. 169

I hereby attest to having read the above statement and swear or affirm it to be my own. 170

By signing this document I swear to or affirm the truthfulness of its content. I understand that I 171

have an opportunity to update this affidavit and that unless such is done prior to such a time 172

whereas I may be called upon to testify in court, and that in such an event a copy of my updated 173

statement is given to all parties involved in this case, I am bound by the content herein. 174

_________________________ 175

Kit Berkshire 176

Subscribed and sworn before me this day April 1, 2007 177

__________________________ 178

Carol Spencer 179

Notary Public 180

Revised 9/24/2008

– 1 –


After being duly sworn upon oath, Riley Faith hereby deposes and states as follows: 2

My name is Riley Faith. I was born in 1952. I earned my bachelors degree in journalism 3

from Northwestern University and attended the University of Missouri-Columbia for my Master 4

of Arts in journalism. I’m now a tenured professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s 5

Graduate School of Journalism. I’ve taught at Berkeley since 2000. Before that, I taught all over 6

the world, including at Oxford, University of Tokyo, and McGill. I’ve taught courses in almost 7

every subject related to journalism and news media, but my emphasis is journalistic ethics. I’ve 8

never actually worked as a journalist in either print or broadcast form. My experience is more 9

academic. I’ve published more than 100 articles on journalism and the media. I am a frequent 10

television commentator when the media itself becomes the story. I write a weekly newspaper 11

column. In 2003, I won the prestigious Francis Leo Award for excellence in promoting the 12

highest standards of journalism. 13

On April 10, 2007, I was hired by the party who is calling me at trial. My hourly rate is 14

$650 per hour, which includes the time necessary to review documents, interview necessary 15

sources, prepare for and attend trial. Prior to coming to court, I spent 26 hours on this case. I 16

reviewed the affidavits of Reagan Thomas, Fran Martin, Kit Berkshire, Harley Kim and Jan Patel 17

and Mickey McQuiggan. I also reviewed a DVD copy and associated paper transcript of the 18

broadcast made by BNN on September 24, 2006 from the Midlands Civic Center; the September 19

25, 2006 memorandum by Fran Martin; and the Kit Berkshire press release of September 25, 20

2006. Because the parties were represented by counsel, I could not interview all of the 21

participants, so in the interests of fairness, I declined to interview any of the participants. Thus, I 22

drew my conclusions solely from the aforementioned six affidavits and three documents (with 23

Revised 9/24/2008

– 2 –

the one attached video of the broadcast itself). These items were sufficient. 24

My goal was to determine whether BNN complied with generally recognized ethical 25

standards of journalism. These standards are based on a compilation of international journalistic 26

standards, including (among others) the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Ethical Guidelines 27

and the Radio-Television News Directors Association Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, 28

and Guidelines for Breaking News Events. I have been hired in more than 60 defamation 29

lawsuits and I have testified in court on such issues more than 20 times. I want to clarify that I 30

am not an attorney, nor have I ever attended law school. I made no conclusions as to the legality 31

of BNN’s actions with respect to the Hamilton shooting. I am certainly familiar with libel law—32

I co-taught a first amendment law class at Emory University—but I drew no conclusions as to 33

whether in this instance BNN acted with “actual malice” or reckless disregard for the truth or 34

falsity of its statements. 35

At the outset, I note my general contempt for BNN. I have devoted my life to ensuring 36

that journalists adhere to the highest of ethical standards. Historically, BNN has trampled on 37

such standards. BNN’s nightly programs often head to commercial with teasers such as, “Why 38

did Vickie Harmon visit her ex-husband in prison? Find out after the break.” When the show 39

returns from commercial, we learn that the celebrity revealed during an interview that she will 40

not be having children for several years. There is a huge disconnection between the teaser and 41

the report. Sometimes BNN is much worse than that. BNN relies on lone anonymous sources 42

when reporting absolute smears. Its reporters invade celebrities’ privacy and intrude on their 43

lives to the point that celebrities sometimes respond aggressively to the BNN paparazzi. I 44

certainly do not excuse assaulting a reporter who is disrespectful, but it is worth observing that 45

BNN’s “reporters” are more criticized and attacked than any others. 46

Revised 9/24/2008

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In general—and this is not a conclusion regarding BNN’s specific coverage of the Lane 47

Hamilton shooting—I find BNN to represent the worst in journalism. The reason that BNN is 48

generally so lacking in journalistic ethics is that, as a tabloid television network, BNN is more 49

focused on entertainment than news. And, like every other cable “news” network, BNN has 24 50

hours of airtime to fill, which results in an endless thirst for any nugget of information, no matter 51

how trivial. Plus, like their competition, there is always a quest to be “first” with any breaking 52

developments. Most BNN employees with whom I’ve spoken (after their employment with 53

BNN has ceased) acknowledge that the company is not concerned with following common 54

journalistic standards. (Of course, my opinion of BNN’s historically shoddy coverage largely 55

predates Berkshire’s arrival at BNN. I’ve noticed at least an effort at an improvement since 56

Berkshire took over, although the network’s adherence to standards is still far from ideal.) 57

Nonetheless, I evaluated BNN’s coverage of the Lane Hamilton shooting in a vacuum—that is, I 58

looked only at BNN’s actions in this case, and not the company’s historical record of ethics. 59

This is why my accompanying report only references BNN’s conduct in this matter. 60

My accompanying report contains my conclusions in this case. This affidavit outlines 61

some of the prevailing canons of journalism. 62

Thoroughness is vital to ethical journalism. A journalist must be as accurate as possible 63

and seek the most reliable sources, given the time allotted to preparation and investigation. 64

Before broadcasting a story, a journalist should interview as many reliable sources as possible. 65

If possible, a journalist should verify each source with another source. While a reporter may 66

ultimately reject information from some sources, he should almost never ignore a source or fail 67

to question a source. A journalist should always seek out the subject of his report and give that 68

subject an opportunity to respond to any allegations of misconduct. Anonymity should be 69

Revised 9/24/2008

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avoided except where necessary to obtain information. A journalist should keep his promises of 70

anonymity, even when inconvenient or difficult. 71

It is important to avoid any real or perceived bias. A journalist should remain objective 72

and free from any conflict of interests. A journalist should not accept bribes or report on stories 73

that affect his personal interests. The perception of favoritism or a conflict of interest can be just 74

as debilitating as actual favoritism or conflict of interest. For this reason, a journalist should seek 75

to retain independence and should avoid associations that may lessen his credibility. 76

Published reports must be accurate, balanced and contextualized. A journalist should not 77

misrepresent or take information out of context. He should balance competing viewpoints. A 78

news report should clearly distinguish which portions are news and which portions are opinion. 79

A journalist should describe charged crimes as “alleged” and identify exactly which sources are 80

making the allegations. But a journalist may report such crimes as fact once a defendant is 81

convicted, unless substantial controversy remains about the rightfulness of the conviction. A 82

journalist should show serious discretion when reporting on children, victims and other 83

involuntary public figures, but may report more freely with respect to public figures. A 84

journalist should be judicious about naming someone as a criminal suspect before any criminal 85

charges have been filed, and especially before police have even made an arrest. 86

Attribution is an important component of ethical journalism. Attribution means giving 87

credit to a particular source of information and identifying that source as part of the publication 88

or broadcast. A journalist should attribute information to sources when possible because the 89

audience cannot determine the reliability of various facts without knowing the reliability of the 90

source. A journalist should identify his source for conclusions based on a single eyewitness, but 91

Revised 9/24/2008

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may report as fact those conclusions based on multiple eyewitnesses. When eyewitnesses 92

disagree, a journalist should present all viewpoints and identify all sources, where possible. 93

No matter how responsible the journalist, his reports will sometimes turn out to contain 94

errors and inaccuracies. That is the natural consequence of relying on information from other 95

people and from the need to get information to the public as quickly as possible. For these 96

reasons, a retraction does not necessarily mean that a journalist has acted carelessly or 97

unethically. When a journalist discovers that his publication or broadcast contained inaccuracies, 98

he should correct those mistakes promptly and prominently. The prominence of a retraction 99

depends on the extent of the inaccuracy, the certainty with which the inaccuracy was first 100

reported, and the prominence of the original broadcast or publication. 101

I hereby attest to having read the above statement and swear or affirm it to be my own. 102

By signing this document I swear to or affirm the truthfulness of its content. I understand that I 103

have an opportunity to update this affidavit and that unless such is done prior to such a time 104

whereas I may be called upon to testify in court, and that in such an event a copy of my updated 105

statement is given to all parties involved in this case, I am bound by the content herein. 106

_________________________ 107

Riley Faith 108

Subscribed and sworn before me this day July 1, 2007 109

__________________________ 110

Carol Spencer 111

Notary Public 112

Revised 12/16/2008

– 1 –


After being duly sworn upon oath, Harley Kim hereby deposes and states as follows: 2

My name is Harley Kim, and I’m twenty-six years of age. I live in Los Angeles, 3

California. Just like everyone else in LA, I’m involved in the entertainment industry. I do 4

camera and set work for BNN. I joined BNN back in 2003 when it was called Blitz Television 5

Station. I worked as a cameraperson for one of the game shows. When the company announced 6

in late 2003 that it would become a news organization, I applied for one of the “photojournalist” 7

positions—it’s the same work as being a cameraperson, but it pays a lot better. I didn’t know 8

anything about journalism since I never went to college, BNN made me read the January 1, 2004 9

memo from CEO Kit Berkshire, which explained the company rules and standards for running a 10

story. I read the memo and I would recognize it if I saw it, but I wouldn’t say I read it closely. 11

As a photojournalist, I do all the camera work for all of the stories we’re working on. 12

That includes shooting the reporters’ interviews and stand-ups, but also shooting the subjects and 13

scenery of our piece. The job has me traveling a lot to exotic places like St. Petersburg, 14

Minneapolis, Des Moines, and Waukegan. Sometimes I get to meet celebrities, fashion models, 15

musicians, actors and actresses—it’s a blast. 16

I was put on an unusual job for September 24, 2006. The gig took place at the Midlands 17

Civic Center in Polk County, Midlands. The station paired me with Reagan Thomas, a pretty 18

new but enthusiastic reporter who was coming into town to cover the Walton-Hamilton debate. I 19

was really surprised that BNN was covering the debate. We usually stick to things like awards 20

shows, murder investigations, public scandals, stuff like that. I get that we’re trying to be more 21

serious, but since when did we become a snooze-fest like C-SPAN? This was the first time I’ve 22

been sent to cover anything political, let alone a boring debate on gun control. For them to fly 23

Revised 12/16/2008

– 2 –

me and Thomas all the way out to Midlands made even less sense. I know Drew Walton is a 24

celebrity—we’ve covered Walton dozens of times. But that was always about trying to figure 25

out which Hollywood star Walton was dating, or how much money Walton spent on this year’s 26

birthday party or last minute trip to a Vegas night club. 27

All my buddies at BNN say that the reason the network sent us to cover the debate is that 28

our new President Kit Berkshire hates Drew Walton and the Walton family. It makes sense. 29

Ever since Walton announced in early 2006 that Walton was running for Midlands governor, it 30

seems like BNN has been trying to destroy Walton’s campaign. We interviewed Walton’s angry 31

exes. We interviewed the sleazy reporters that Walton punched a couple of years ago. We 32

linked Walton to the Midlands night clubs notorious for drug use. Every story we run on Walton 33

is negative, which is strange since our viewers really like Walton. It doesn’t bother me, though. 34

I just aim the camera where I’m told and make sure we get good footage. 35

On September 24, 2006, we got to the Civic Center early, around 7 pm for a debate set to 36

start at 8. But unlike the other network crews there, BNN wasn’t covering the debate itself. We 37

just wanted to interview Walton after the debate. I was on camera, Reagan Thomas was 38

reporting, and Fran Martin was producing (though not present at the Civic Center). 39

Since we weren’t covering the debate itself, I decided to head across the street to a bar 40

called Chuggy’s. I was there for two hours and had about three drinks. I was back a few 41

minutes after 9 pm, ready to shoot some footage. I went up to Reagan Thomas, who said, “Look 42

at your eyes! Have you been drinking?” Thomas was just being a stick in the mud. I felt totally 43

sober—certainly sober enough to work a camera. At 9:20, after the debate ended, both 44

participants exited behind the stage and took separate podiums for a press conference. All the 45

questions were directed towards Walton and most reporters were openly commenting on how 46

Revised 12/16/2008

– 3 –

Walton had dominated the debate. Hamilton just stood there, looking angrier and angrier. 47

Hamilton crossed his arms and got red in the face. 48

Reagan Thomas was another person who got annoyed during the press conference. 49

While all of the reporters were asking serious questions about gun control, polling results, and 50

the gubernatorial election, Thomas was asking the usual BNN questions: “Has running for office 51

affected your dating life?” “Who’s the best looking person in politics?” “Where did you get that 52

suit?” Stuff like that. Eventually, Drew Walton just gave Thomas a condescending smile and 53

said, “I’m here to answer questions of substance. I’m here to answer questions from real news 54

reporters.” Thomas just grabbed my arm and we left. “Walton’s not going to answer any of our 55

questions. I’m going to take a quick peek in Walton’s dressing room, maybe get a quote from 56

Walton’s personal assistant, then we’ll split. I’ll meet you in the parking lot out back.” 57

At 9:40, I went out behind the Civic Center, loaded my camera equipment into the truck, 58

and waited outside the truck for Thomas to come back. It was dark out, but I was standing under 59

a light, so I could see pretty well. At about 9:45, I saw Drew Walton and Walton’s personal 60

assistant come out the rear door of the Center. The assistant opened the rear door of a limo for 61

Walton, who removed a jacket and tossed it into the car. The assistant got into the driver’s seat 62

and I heard the engine start. All of a sudden, I heard screaming. Lane Hamilton had exited the 63

Center and was yelling at Drew Walton. I could see Walton’s back and Hamilton’s face. 64

Hamilton said, “You’re wrong on gun control and you’re wrong for this country. You might be 65

able to fool voters with that propaganda, but your father would see right through it. If he saw 66

you tonight, he would be ashamed.” As soon as Hamilton mentioned Walton’s father, Walton’s 67

demeanor changed from irritation to anger. Walton said something like, “Don’t you dare talk 68

about my father.” That’s when Walton reached into the car and pulled out a gun. 69

Revised 12/16/2008

– 4 –

I immediately started dialing Reagan Thomas’s cell phone number and I went to grab my 70

camera from the back of the truck. I had to take my eyes off of Hamilton and Walton, but my 71

job isn’t to see events—it’s to capture them on tape. I was still getting my camera ready, when I 72

heard a gunshot go off. I ducked my head inside the back of the truck. I heard a second shot. I 73

peeked out from behind the truck and saw Hamilton on the ground. He wasn’t moving, though it 74

looked like he was bleeding. Drew Walton was touching Hamilton’s body but I couldn’t tell 75

what Walton was doing. The last thing I saw before the shots was Walton holding a gun, and the 76

first thing I saw after the shots was Walton crouching by the body. I only looked away for about 77

thirty seconds. I didn’t see Walton shoot Hamilton, but I assume that’s what happened. 78

A few seconds after the second shot was fired, Reagan came running out of the Civic 79

Center. Reagan asked me what I saw and I gave Reagan the whole story, detail by detail. Pretty 80

soon, a crowd had gathered, including lots of other reporters, and by 9:50 the cops arrived. The 81

cops wanted my story so I couldn’t get much action on camera—I caught flack for that later. 82

Drew Walton started doing a press conference at 9:55. I asked Reagan Thomas if I should film 83

the Walton press conference . Reagan said, “No, every other channel is listening to Walton’s 84

self-serving story. I don’t care what Walton has to say. If I want to break this story, I’ve got to 85

interview the eyewitnesses.” So that’s what Reagan did. Instead of listening to Walton, Reagan 86

talked to everyone else. Reagan asked me about what I saw. Reagan spoke to the police chief, 87

Captain Vanunu. Reagan talked to one of the crime scene investigators. Reagan interviewed 88

Walton’s assistant, who said it was a suicide. Reagan was also approached by a janitor, but that 89

conversation lasted about 15 seconds because Reagan didn’t ask the janitor any questions. 90

By 10:05, I heard Reagan on the phone with our producer, Fran Martin. I only heard one 91

side of the conversation. Reagan went through all of the interviews and what each person had 92

Revised 12/16/2008

– 5 –

said. Reagan wanted to get on the air and say that Walton had shot Hamilton. I could tell from 93

Reagan’s reaction that Martin had refused to let Reagan run the story. I’ve worked with Fran 94

Martin before. Martin is reasonable and professional and I figured Martin’s decision was the end 95

of it—we’d just get on air and make the same report that every other station was running, that 96

Hamilton was dead. But as soon as Reagan got off the phone with Martin, Reagan called Kit 97

Berkshire. I couldn’t believe it! Reagan gave the same recap to Berkshire that Reagan had given 98

Martin. Reagan smiled and hung up the phone. “We’re running the story,” Reagan said. 99

The next thing I know we’re live on BNN, interrupting the network’s coverage of the 100

Oski Awards. Reagan basically accused Walton of murder. I’m proud to be part of the biggest 101

news story in Midlands history and the biggest story that BNN has ever run. The company gave 102

me an immediate raise and now I get the best gigs in the sweetest locales. I hope to have a long 103

future with BNN. 104

I hereby attest to having read the above statement and swear or affirm it to be my own. 105

By signing this document I swear to or affirm the truthfulness of its content. I understand that I 106

have an opportunity to update this affidavit and that unless such is done prior to such a time 107

whereas I may be called upon to testify in court, and that in such an event a copy of my updated 108

statement is given to all parties involved in this case, I am bound by the content herein. 109

_________________________ 110

Harley Kim 111

Subscribed and sworn before me this day April 1, 2007 112

__________________________ 113

Carol Spencer 114

Notary Public115

– 1 –


After being duly sworn upon oath, Gorgie Larson hereby deposes and states as follows: 2

My name is Gorgie Larson. I was born in 1969. I live with my spouse Ariel, who I met 3

on a trip through Europe, and my dog Oliver. We live at the Park Newport apartment complex at 4

the corner of Jamboree and Amsterdam in Midlands City. I’m thinking about moving, though, 5

since everyone around me is much younger than I am and those kids keep me up at night. 6

I’ve held a variety of thrilling jobs over the years and seen a lot of the world. About four 7

years ago I decided to pursue my dream of becoming an internet blogger. I know it sounds 8

prestigious and impressive but you’d be surprised—it’s actually really easy to become a blogger. 9

All you need is a computer and something to say. You certainly don’t need higher education—I 10

can attest to that. I did about three weeks of college before I realized I could get the same 11

education at the public library without the hassle of all those exams. That was the last time I set 12

foot on a campus and, honestly, I don’t think my lack of a college degree has hurt me at all. 13

I started the blog in 2005. I just used one of the more popular blog host sites, chose a 14

website name, and I had my blog up and running in less than 5 minutes. I call it Midlands Buzz. 15

I offer news, rumors, and my personal observations of the daily goings-on in the State of 16

Midlands. Midlands is a relatively small state and a lot of people couldn’t even point to 17

Midlands on a map. I thought if I could cover the juiciest parts of Midlands life, it could really 18

raise the profile of our fine state. I cover political events, movie premieres at the Trifecta studio, 19

Midlands sports teams, and high profile Midlands trials (of which we have about one per year). 20

Originally, it was just a hobby, something fun to do on weekends, but then my readership 21

starting growing and growing. I got advertisers—at first it was local places like Chuggy’s Bar, 22

Tucker Roberts & Payne, and Kissner Golf Instruction. But as my audience expanded, I got 23

– 2 –

bigger sponsorships, like the Midlands Marauders hockey team and the Dutcher Iron Company. 24

The advertising income let me quit my day job and focus full time on the blog. Some people ask 25

me the secret to my success. I always say the same thing: “If I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret, 26

now would it? Just kidding. The two secrets to my blog success are that I only report the truth 27

but I find a way to spice it up.” No one wants to read a boring story so I find that the truth can be 28

a lot more interesting with a little dash of editorial license. Sensationalism sells advertising 29

space and no blog sells more advertising space than mine. I get about 250,000 hits per day and 30

the frequent visitors—the ones who visit the Midlands Buzz multiple times per day and often 31

post comments—call themselves the Buzzards. I’ve got quite a following. 32

One of my most exciting stories came on September 24, 2006. I was reporting from the 33

Midlands Civic Center, where Lane Hamilton was debating gubernatorial candidate Drew 34

Walton. I’d covered both before. Hamilton was the reclusive professor from Midlands 35

University, famous for his funks. I’d blogged about other Hamilton debates in the past and each 36

time Hamilton seemed really sad after the debate. He just never seemed like a happy guy. 37

Of course, I’d covered Drew Walton, too. The Waltons are to Midlandians like peanuts 38

are to an elephant—they just can’t get enough! I’ve blogged about Drew’s run-ins with 39

photographers (in 2005, I was there when Drew smashed a photographer’s camera). I’ve 40

blogged about Drew’s campaign and the campaigns of the other Waltons. I’ve blogged about 41

who all of the Waltons are dating. One thing I’ve learned, though, is that no matter what Drew 42

Walton does, Midlandians love Drew—especially the Midlandians who read my blog. When I 43

published a negative story about Drew’s stance on campaign finance reform in 2006, people 44

organized a week-long boycott of my website. That cost me a lot of advertising money. After 45

that, I vowed to never again say anything negative about Drew Walton—a vow that I’ve kept. 46

– 3 –

Anyhow, I was at the debate on September 24 between Professor Lane Hamilton and 47

gubernatorial candidate Drew Walton, who was running against incumbent Neil McGivern. I 48

obtained a press pass and sat in the nosebleed seats. There were hundreds of reporters at the 49

debate. The more well-known reporters got the seats closer to the stage. I was sitting right 50

behind Reagan Thomas from the Blitz News Network. I had never met Thomas before but it 51

didn’t take long to learn Thomas’s name. Every time someone walked by, Thomas would say in 52

a broadcaster voice, “I’m Reagan Thomas from the Blitz News Network.” It was annoying. 53

The debate started at 8:00 pm and Walton just dominated Hamilton. It really affected 54

Hamilton, who lost his calm. Sweating, stumbling, stuttering—the guy just fell apart. It was 55

one-sided. I heard Thomas on the phone with someone—I have no idea who—and I heard 56

Thomas say, “Walton is killing him. I better do something.” I don’t know what that meant. I’m 57

pretty sure that’s what Thomas said, but it was hard to hear with the loudspeakers blaring the 58

debate right behind me. The bloggers never get respect at these events. At about 9:05, just 59

before the debate ended, someone took the seat right in front of me. Thomas called the person 60

“Harley.” I could smell beer all over Harley. Thomas must have, too, since Thomas said, 61

“Harley, you smell like a brewery, how are you going to work the camera?” Harley said, “I’m 62

fine,” and I must admit Harley’s voice, gait, and eyes seemed perfectly sober. 63

The post-debate press conference started at 9:15. Walton was cheerful but Hamilton 64

seemed resigned and depressed. I’d seen him sad before but nothing like this. I was worried 65

about him. The only awkward moments during the conference came when Reagan Thomas got 66

called on. Walton wouldn’t answer Thomas’s questions and instead insulted Thomas. After two 67

of these brush-offs, Thomas left the press conference. Thomas wasn’t there when someone 68

– 4 –

asked Hamilton whether he was feeling okay. Hamilton said, “I’ve been feeling down lately. 69

Nothing to worry about. The malaise will end soon.” 70

I hung around after the debate, interviewing some locals to get their thoughts for my 71

blog. I also took some pictures for the blog. At about 9:45 I heard two gunshots go off and I 72

froze. All of the reporters started heading toward the back parking lot. With the crowd, I didn’t 73

make it outside until 9:50. When I came outside, I saw a body on the ground surrounded by 74

police officers. It was an absolute madhouse—the parking lot was flooded with reporters, 75

camera crews, police, security, workers in Civic Center uniforms, and many of the spectators 76

who attended the debate. Many reporters were already outside when I came outside, including 77

Reagan Thomas. I was annoyed that they were on scene first—they were going to get the scoop 78

before me! There was police tape up but I got as close as I could. The body was Lane Hamilton. 79

I’m no doctor but Hamilton was dead—blood all over, hole in his head, completely motionless. 80

Drew Walton was talking to some police officers. I couldn’t hear what was being said. I could 81

tell, though, that Drew looked totally relaxed and composed, and the officers seemed very 82

deferential to Drew. One officer shook Drew’s hand, another officer slapped Drew on the back 83

in a friendly fashion, and Police Captain Michael Vanunu said to Drew and smiled, “We have to 84

make sure your story checks out, but I don’t expect any problems for you, Governor.” I didn’t 85

see any other journalists around for this exchange—just me. 86

A few minutes later, Drew Walton’s personal assistant—name was Casey French—87

announced that Drew Walton was holding a press conference at the south end of the back 88

parking lot, about fifty yards from where all of the police and media had gathered near 89

Hamilton’s body. All of the reporters I saw from the debate started heading over, except for 90

Reagan Thomas and that Harley cameraperson. 91

– 5 –

The press conference started at 9:54. Walton now seemed very upset and emotional, and 92

had trouble speaking. Walton said, “Citizens of Midlands, by now many of you know the sad 93

truth that Professor Lane Hamilton is dead. Professor Hamilton was my debate opponent a few 94

minutes ago but we shared a common goal of making Midlands a better place.” Pretty shameless 95

political plug at a time like this, if you ask me, but I kept that thought to myself. Walton 96

continued, “Fellow citizens, just a few minutes ago, I emerged from our debate and headed out to 97

my car. I started to leave when Lane approached me, screaming. He ran at me, fist cocked, and 98

I was afraid for my safety. I pulled out a gun I keep for protection. As Lane drew closer, he 99

calmed down. I put the gun down and we talked. Lane told me he had lost everything and he 100

grabbed my gun. I took a step back and told him not to do it, that he still had so much to live for. 101

He stared at the gun, raised it to his head, and I watched him commit suicide. He shot himself in 102

the head. Fellow citizens, I hope none of you have to witness such an event. If you or your 103

loved ones are feeling depressed, I urge you to seek help.” I was surprised that Walton only 104

mentioned one gunshot since I heard two. At that point, Walton began taking questions from 105

reporters. I had Walton’s statement so I headed back to the north end of the parking lot to find 106

eyewitnesses. I wanted to talk to every available eyewitness and police source. 107

When I got back to the north end, I saw police interviewing Harley from BNN. I didn’t 108

hear what Harley was saying. Reagan Thomas wasn’t with Harley. Just then, I heard someone 109

yell Reagan’s name. It was a person in a janitor’s uniform and I followed the person over to 110

Reagan Thomas. The janitor was talking very excitedly—fast, loud, almost incoherently—the 111

entire time. The janitor said, “I saw the shooting. It was a suicide. Put me on TV and I will tell 112

everyone what I saw.” I waited for Reagan to ask some questions but Reagan didn’t say a 113

word—Reagan just walked away. I couldn’t believe it! Who walks away from an eyewitness? I 114

– 6 –

stuck around and interviewed the janitor. I learned the janitor’s name was Jan Patel and that 115

Patel hadn’t been quite honest with Reagan Thomas. Patel had not seen the shooting—just what 116

happened before and after. Patel did, however, see the gun in Hamilton’s hand just before the 117

two shots were fired, which supported Walton’s story. 118

I got information from three other sources besides Patel. I spoke with Casey French, who 119

said, “I was sitting in the limo when the whole thing went down. I saw it all from my sideview 120

mirror. My boss pulled out a gun because Hamilton was acting crazy. I couldn’t hear the 121

discussion between Drew and Hamilton, but I saw Hamilton grab the gun, a shot went off, and 122

then Hamilton put the gun to his head and committed suicide.” French said the suicide happened 123

about fifteen minutes ago, at about 9:45. I believed French because French was completely calm 124

when speaking to me. When French gave me this story, no one else was around. 125

I spoke with Dixie Bard, a female security guard who was patrolling the parking lot at 126

about 9:45. She saw Walton standing a few feet from Hamilton, and she heard one of them yell, 127

“No!” right after the first gunshot was fired but right before the second gunshot was fired. She 128

saw Hamilton drop to the ground, Walton look around, and Walton then touch Hamilton’s body. 129

Bard couldn’t see what Walton was doing. Bard called 911, drove over to Walton, and secured 130

the scene until the police arrived. Walton claimed a suicide. Bard said the gun was on the 131

ground and closer to Walton than Hamilton, and that it looked like a murder to Bard. But she 132

admitted that she wasn’t sure because she didn’t see who was holding the gun. 133

Finally, I attended a police press conference. All the reporters were there, including 134

Thomas. Captain Vanunu said the investigation was ongoing. He said at least one source 135

indicated suicide but Walton had admitted to owning the gun, Walton had admitted to being 136

present at the shooting, and that two shots had been fired, which is unusual in a suicide. Sarah 137

– 7 –

Leven, a reporter from UBC, asked, “Are any homicide charges coming against Drew Walton?” 138

Captain Vanunu seemed to choose his words carefully, responding, “No arrest has been made 139

and no charges have been filed. However, the gubernatorial nominee is a person of interest for 140

our investigation and we will keep you updated regarding Walton’s involvement.” 141

There were two people I wanted to speak with that night, but couldn’t. I tried to talk to 142

the lead CSI, McQuiggan, but McQuiggan said, “I don’t talk to reporters until the investigation is 143

complete.” I also tried to talk to Harley from BNN, since the police had interviewed Harley. I 144

never got the chance and thus never got Harley’s story. The fact is, everything seemed like it 145

was happening at once—Walton’s press conference, the police press conference, the availability 146

of eyewitnesses—and not everything was happening in the same area. I don’t feel like there was 147

any way I could talk to everyone. 148

I ended up posting my blog report at 10:45 that night using the wireless connection inside 149

the Civic Center. Posting only an hour after the gunshots might seem rushed but one thing I’ve 150

learned in the news business is you can’t sit on a story. My readers want information right away 151

and if they don’t get it, they will go elsewhere. I reported that Hamilton was dead, Walton was 152

claiming suicide, the eyewitnesses I spoke to supported Walton’s story, but that the police 153

considered Walton a suspect. I didn’t mention the exchange between Walton and Vanunu 154

because I’ve learned not to criticize Walton. The Buzzards went crazy, and my blog got a record 155

number of hits—meaning, the best audience I’d ever had. That story increased my advertising so 156

much that now I can afford a personal assistant to help with the blog—his name is Nell Mark and 157

he is just great with computers. 158

I’ve read the transcript of Reagan Thomas’s broadcast. I can’t believe that BNN ran the 159

accusation against Walton. I may not have advanced degrees in journalism, but I have studied 160

– 8 –

several conventional standards for journalists and I also have common sense. You can’t skip a 161

person’s press conference where they tell their side of the story, and then go on TV and accuse 162

them of murder. You can’t blow off an eyewitness just because they’re acting crazy. And you 163

can’t make such a serious accusation with attributing your sources. 164

Granted, I wasn’t with Reagan Thomas for every moment that night. I don’t know who 165

Reagan interviewed or what everyone said to Reagan or whether they seemed believable. I also 166

don’t have that much experience as an interviewer, so it’s possible Reagan asked better questions 167

than I did, and it’s possible that others are better at assessing credibility than I am. But as 168

someone who was there, I can tell you that it looked like suicide, not murder, and that at the 169

least, there was plenty of evidence pointing to suicide. To report otherwise was dishonest. 170

I hereby attest to having read the above statement and swear or affirm it to be my own. 171

By signing this document I swear to or affirm the truthfulness of its content. I understand that I 172

have an opportunity to update this affidavit and that unless such is done prior to such a time 173

whereas I may be called upon to testify in court, and that in such an event a copy of my updated 174

statement is given to all parties involved in this case, I am bound by the content herein. 175

_________________________ 176

Gorgie Larson 177

Subscribed and sworn before me this day April 1, 2008 178

__________________________ 179

Amanda LaVerdera 180

Notary Public 181

– 1 –


After being duly sworn upon oath, Fran Martin hereby deposes and states as follows: 2

My name is Fran Martin. I live in Anchorage, Alaska, but I used to live in Manhattan, 3

New York. I was born in 1969. Dad was never around and my mother was a hairstylist. Since 4

our family couldn’t afford babysitting, I spent a lot of time at the salon with my mother. That’s 5

where I started reading the gossip magazines and tabloids. I knew who each celebrity was 6

dating, which ones had gotten plastic surgery and which ones had checked into rehab. I grew to 7

love the stuff. My dream was to cover celebrities for a living. 8

After high school, I turned down a few college opportunities and instead got an entry-9

level position at Blitz Magazine, a periodical devoted to entertainment and celebrity gossip. I 10

opened mail, brought coffee to the editors, and basically served as office gopher. I worked hard 11

and moved my way up, so when Blitz Enterprises founded Blitz TV in 1988, I became a low-12

level editing assistant. Over the years, I worked my way up the ladder and, in 2002, I was 13

promoted to Producer. I’ve never actually worked as a reporter or anchor. For my entire career, 14

I’ve focused on the work going on behind the camera, including general production issues, 15

technical management, and programming coordination. I’ve never worked in front of the 16

camera, but I’ve never been very comfortable with an audience. 17

In 2004, Blitz renamed itself Blitz News Network (“BNN”) in an effort to become more 18

serious. We still featured a lot of the same content as before, such as talk shows, game shows, 19

and reality TV, but we added a ton of news content, including a 24-hour news desk that could cut 20

into a broadcast at any time a story broke. The transition was difficult for me since my interests 21

lie with celebrity gossip and the entertainment industry, not politics, business or human interest 22

stories. But fortunately, BNN still retained its sensational feel as it covered current events. 23

– 2 –

In early September 2006, I heard BNN would be covering the September 24, 2006 24

Hamilton-Walton gun control debate and that I would be the producer in charge of the coverage. 25

Before I got the assignment, I didn’t know there was a debate. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of 26

Lane Hamilton. The closest I come to politics is trying to predict which politician will be the 27

next subject of scandal. I know Drew Walton is a major celebrity but I was nonetheless shocked 28

that BNN wanted to cover a political debate. I called BNN President Kit Berkshire. 29

Berkshire became BNN President back in 2004 when we transitioned ourselves to a news 30

organization. Berkshire had headed the news department for the United Broadcasting Company, 31

one of the largest, most respected and most profitable television networks in the world. Ever 32

since I was a teenager, I had always admired Berkshire’s work for UBC as professional, reliable 33

and well-researched. But after Berkshire arrived at BNN, when I personally worked with 34

Berkshire on more than five occasions, I was especially impressed. Prior to the events 35

surrounding the Walton-Hamilton debate, I found Berkshire to be smart, wise, and cautious. 36

In 2005, I was covering a story about the famous Bailey Reynolds kidnapping. I wanted 37

to run this story about how the babysitter was a suspect that the police had overlooked, because 38

she had a troubled past, needed money, and had access to the drug used to sedate the kidnapped 39

child. But Berkshire wouldn’t let me run the story until I had more evidence. Berkshire 40

reminded me that while sensationalism sells, it also risks destroying real lives. The babysitter 41

turned out to be innocent and, thanks to Berkshire’s conservatism, we spared a young girl an 42

accusation that might have been difficult to overcome. 43

Anyway, I called Berkshire in September 2006 to ask why BNN was covering the 44

political debate. Berkshire told me that Walton was a celebrity. I reminded Berkshire that BNN 45

had never covered Jesse Ventura’s or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political campaigns even though 46

– 3 –

they were celebrities. Berkshire said, “This is an important election. Voters need to know what 47

kind of person Walton is.” Berkshire sounded hostile towards Walton, so I dropped the topic. 48

On September 24, 2006, I coordinated with our engineering staff, photojournalist Harley 49

Kim, and reporter Reagan Thomas, who we sent to report on site at the Midlands Civic Center. 50

We were under orders from Berkshire not to cover the debate but only to ask Walton some 51

questions after the debate. That made sense—our viewers would have no interest in a gun 52

control debate, but they might enjoy hearing a few lines from Walton, always one of our best-53

selling subjects. Still, we were sending one of our best photojournalists, one of our top reporters, 54

and booking a satellite truck all the way out to Midlands…just to ask two or three questions. It 55

seemed like a very costly, inefficient use of resources, but I could tell this was a big deal to 56

Berkshire, so I didn’t protest. I’ve learned that, to get ahead, sometimes you need to say what 57

people want to hear—and sometimes, you just have to keep your mouth shut. 58

During the debate, I got an email from Reagan Thomas with some proposed interview 59

questions for Drew Walton. Thomas wanted to ask about Walton’s political stances. They were 60

good questions for other networks, but the BNN audience wants insight into fashion and 61

romance, not gun control and economic measures. Thomas is an excellent reporter—a great 62

rapport with interviewees, a good nose for a story, and an unmatched work ethic—but sometimes 63

it’s obvious that Thomas doesn’t consider BNN to be “real journalism.” It always seems that 64

Thomas would rather be working at CNN than BNN and it leads Thomas to push stories that 65

don’t always get the best ratings. In this case, I rejected Thomas’s questions for Walton and sent 66

back a more appropriate set of interview questions. 67

After the debate, at 9:40, I got a call from Thomas that Walton hadn’t been receptive to 68

the questions I drafted. Thomas didn’t sound happy with me. Thomas said, “I’m going to do a 69

– 4 –

little more digging. I’ll let you know if I find anything.” At 9:50, I got a call from one of my 70

friends, telling me to put on the news. “Which station?” I asked. “Anyone but BNN,” she said. 71

That night, we were showing the Oski Awards, BNN’s biggest televised event of the year. I 72

grabbed the remote and flipped through the major networks. 73

Every major network had cut into their regular broadcasts and was reporting either from 74

the Midlands Civic Center or from their studios. One network’s reporter said, “Professor Lane 75

Hamilton is dead, found here in the Civic Center parking lot just moments ago, an apparent 76

victim of a gunshot wound to the head. Gubernatorial candidate Drew Walton may have been 77

here at the scene. It’s too early to determine the nature of Hamilton’s death, but we will bring 78

you new developments as they happen.” Another network said, “After a debate between 79

gubernatorial candidate Drew Walton and Midlands University Professor Lane Hamilton, police 80

on the scene say Professor Hamilton was found dead in the parking lot behind the Midlands 81

Civic Center. It’s too early to say why or how Hamilton died, but early reports, apparently based 82

on statements from Drew Walton, suggest that this may be a suicide.” 83

I immediately dialed Thomas’s cell phone. I wanted to know why we were the only 84

network with reporters at the Civic Center that wasn’t covering the Hamilton death. Thomas’s 85

cell phone went to voicemail. Then I saw another network was showing a live press conference 86

with Drew Walton, who said, “I was there when it happened. I was there when Hamilton shot 87

himself. It was horrible.” I redialed Thomas’s phone, but again got no answer. I kept dialing 88

Thomas and Harley Kim, but I kept getting their voicemail. I even didn’t get a response when I 89

tried to talk to our truck, or Reagan and Harley, directly through the satellite connection. I could 90

tell something strange was going on. 91

– 5 –

At 10:05, I finally got a call from Reagan Thomas. I started chastising Reagan for the 92

fact that we were the only network covering the debate that hadn’t reported on Hamilton’s death. 93

Reagan interrupted me by saying, “Fran, I’ve got the biggest story you’ve ever heard. I think 94

Drew Walton murdered Hamilton.” I asked Reagan for the evidence supporting that conclusion. 95

When I heard the basis for Reagan’s conclusion, I knew that they didn’t meet our network’s 96

journalistic standards, described in Berkshire’s January 1, 2004 memo. I told Reagan that we 97

weren’t going to run the story but, as I was explaining why, Reagan hung up the phone. 98

You can imagine my surprise when about five minutes after I got off the phone, our 99

control booth came over the intercom to tell me BNN was interrupting the Oski Awards 100

broadcast with a live report from the Midlands Civic Center. My jaw dropped when I heard 101

Reagan accuse Drew Walton of shooting Lane Hamilton. I was more furious than I’ve ever 102

been. I dialed Reagan’s cell phone, but of course Reagan didn’t answer. I called Berkshire, who 103

picked up immediately. Before I could complain, Berkshire cut me off. “I can’t believe you told 104

Reagan not to run that story. This is the biggest story of the year. This is going to completely 105

change the governor’s election.” I told Berkshire that Reagan didn’t have sufficient evidence to 106

accuse Walton of murder. Berkshire responded, “First of all, Reagan didn’t accuse Walton of 107

murder. Second of all, Reagan stated the news report as an opinion. And as to the issue of 108

sufficient evidence, well, we’ll discuss that tomorrow—that is, if you still have a job tomorrow.” 109

After Berkshire threatened my job, I decided to put my side of the story in writing before 110

Berkshire or Thomas could undercut me. I wrote a memo to Kit Berkshire on the morning of 111

Monday, September 25, 2006. The memo includes everything I learned from Reagan Thomas 112

during our conversation of approximately 10:05 pm on September 24, 2006 and my reasons for 113

not allowing Reagan Thomas to broadcast the accusation against Walton. 114

– 6 –

I learned from coworkers that Berkshire had overridden my decision and allowed Reagan 115

Thomas to make the accusation against Walton. Many decisions of whether to run a story are 116

close calls that come down to judgment. Sometimes one journalist will think she has enough 117

evidence to make a broadcast, where another doesn’t think so. This doesn’t necessarily mean 118

that one is right and the other is wrong. I can think of several instances where Berkshire and I 119

disagreed about a judgment call—and almost every time, Berkshire ended up being right. 120

Still, I couldn’t understand why Berkshire would do that with the lack of evidence against 121

Walton. It wasn’t the sort of responsible journalism that had been the hallmark of Berkshire’s 122

reputation. I decided to investigate. I watched all of the recent Drew Walton segments that 123

BNN had aired since Berkshire took over as President. Almost every segment was negative, 124

depicting Drew Walton as shallow and privileged—a huge change from the fairly positive 125

treatment that Walton was given by BNN prior to 2004. 126

I watched the first BNN broadcast after Walton announced that Walton was running for 127

governor. BNN cut away from the press conference and immediately started showing photos of 128

Drew Walton looking drunk after a party in 1995 and video clips of Walton screaming at 129

paparazzi. Katie Lynn, the BNN anchor, questioned whether Walton’s temper and inexperience 130

made Walton a weak candidate for public office, but offered nothing positive about Walton’s 131

candidacy or announcement. On another network, this sort of journalism would be considered 132

biased. But for BNN, a network that had never before taken an interest in politics, it seemed 133

especially nasty and vindictive. It was clear to me that someone at BNN—I suspected 134

Berkshire—was going out of his or her way to attack Drew Walton. I did a little more digging—135

apparently, Berkshire had personally contributed money to the campaign of Neal McGivern, the 136

man running against Drew Walton in the Midlands gubernatorial race. 137

– 7 –

I was going to bring these concerns to the attention of BNN’s management but I never 138

got the chance. On Tuesday, September 26, 2006, Kit Berkshire walked into my office with 139

BNN’s general counsel, Bonnie Sood. Berkshire didn’t say a word, but just smiled as Sood said 140

I was being reassigned to our local affiliate all the way down in market number 154—141

Anchorage, Alaska. She explained to me that the reassignment was effective immediately. I’m 142

been working in Anchorage ever since, covering stories about how to get a fishing license, and 143

about kids who make really large snowmen. I make 25% of what I used to make but, worst of 144

all, there’s no celebrity gossip to cover in Alaska. When I tried to interview at other news 145

stations and tabloid magazines, no one would return my calls. I blame Berkshire for my terrible 146

reassignment, and I suspect Berkshire made calls to other executives and told them not to hire 147

me. Berkshire ruined my dream job. 148

I hereby attest to having read the above statement and swear or affirm it to be my own. 149

By signing this document I swear to or affirm the truthfulness of its content. I understand that I 150

have an opportunity to update this affidavit and that unless such is done prior to such a time 151

whereas I may be called upon to testify in court, and that in such an event a copy of my updated 152

statement is given to all parties involved in this case, I am bound by the content herein. 153

_________________________ 154

Fran Martin 155

Subscribed and sworn before me this day April 1, 2007 156

__________________________ 157

Carol Spencer 158

Notary Public159

Revised 12/16/2008

– 1 –


After being duly sworn upon oath, Mickey McQuiggan hereby deposes and states as follows: 2

My name is Mickey McQuiggan. I was born in 1978. I live at 4120 Larchwood Street in 3

Midlands City, Midlands. I got a four-year degree from the University of Minnesota at Morris, 4

graduating with honors in biochemistry and a minor in physics. After a year of unsatisfying 5

work in a lab, I decided on a career change. While watching CSI: Midlands on TV one night, I 6

realized microscopes can help with more than just curing diseases—they can solve crimes. I 7

received a two-year graduate degree in forensic science from Midlands University and accepted 8

a job with the Midlands City coroner’s office. My official title is “death investigator”—but, 9

thankfully, people often use other titles. 10

As a DI, I conduct the initial investigative phase surrounding any “reportable” death—11

any death that is sudden, unexplained, traumatic, or medically unattended. I’ve been trained in 12

evaluation of postmortem physiological changes, including establishing time of death, and 13

evidence collection procedure. I have training and experience in specializations like ballistics 14

analysis and crime scene reconstruction. I guess you could say that I do a little bit of everything 15

and perpetrators find that out the hard way. I’ve been lead DI for more than 200 cases. 16

I was on duty the night of Sunday, September 24, 2006. The weather was unusually cold, 17

about 40 degrees with strong winds. It’s hard enough to collect good evidence without having to 18

worry about the elements, not to mention shivering. At exactly 9:47 that night, the station got a 19

call about a high-profile shooting at the Midlands Civic Center potentially involving Drew 20

Walton. Typically, DIs work in pairs so we don’t miss anything but, because my partner had the 21

flu, they had staffed me alone that night. I grabbed my kit and hopped in the unit with the Police 22

Captain Vanunu, who drove. 23

Revised 12/16/2008

– 2 –

We got there at 9:50 and found the craziest death scene of my career. There was a 24

camera crew there already, with lots of people milling around, and to boot, there was no 25

authority figure. We were actually the first response team. Civic Center security personnel had 26

created a twenty-five foot perimeter around the body. There is a difference between security 27

guards and forensic investigators, so I worried about whether the crime scene had been 28

compromised before our arrival. There is no way to tell for sure, but everything looked in order. 29

The body was Lane Hamilton, as identified by driver’s license and several who knew the 30

man. Hamilton was on his back. There was a bullet hole in his head; he was dead. His body 31

was still warm. I would later conduct more extensive analysis of time of death, but Hamilton 32

had clearly died within the last few minutes. Both of his arms were to the side, almost in the 33

position of a snow angel. He had gloves on both hands. A Beretta 92 was 18 inches from 34

Hamilton’s right hand. I found no evidence that the gun had been moved or contaminated. 35

Vanunu confronted and frisked Drew Walton, who was standing nearby, looking dazed. 36

Walton insisted that Hamilton had shot himself with the pistol on the ground. Walton 37

acknowledged that the Beretta pistol was owned by and registered to Walton. Our interaction 38

with Walton was cordial and professional because Walton was so cooperative. We never 39

handcuffed Walton, placed Walton under arrest, or read Walton Miranda rights. Walton 40

voluntarily got into a squad car with a police officer and went to the police precinct for 41

questioning. After that, I had four officers quickly secure the scene with the standard double 42

perimeter of police tape. 43

The first thing I did was bag and tag the Beretta pistol lying on the ground not too far 44

from Hamilton. The Beretta 92 is a 9mm semiautomatic, single-action handgun. Semiautomatic 45

Revised 12/16/2008

– 3 –

weapons can be fired without chambering another round; single-action weapons don’t need to be 46

cocked. Hamilton’s head wound was consistent with the Beretta I found next to Hamilton. 47

At first, I suspected that we had a homicide on our hands, simply because people usually 48

don’t shoot themselves in front of an audience, especially when the audience owns the gun. Just 49

as I was thinking that, someone on the other side of the tape said to me, “Looks like Walton’s 50

halo just got a little rust on it, huh?” I gave an offhand response like “When two people are 51

present at a shooting, I wouldn’t want to be the one standing when the police arrive.” When the 52

person started asking more questions, I realized the person was a reporter, so I explained that the 53

investigation was ongoing and we had not yet determined whether it was suicide or homicide. I 54

found out later that the person I had responded to was national news reporter Reagan Thomas. 55

I also saw Captain Vanunu make a brief announcement to all of the reporters at 10:05, 56

including Thomas. All he said was that Drew Walton owned the gun recovered by Hamilton’s 57

body, but that Walton was claiming that Hamilton committed suicide right in front of Walton. 58

Getting back to my investigation, I found a bullet deeply embedded in the pavement 59

about twenty feet from the body, and was immediately able to confirm it as consistent with the 60

Beretta’s slug. The location of that bullet seemed inconsistent with it having been the bullet that 61

caused the head wound. I found a second a bullet in the wall of the Civic Center, consistent with 62

it having been the bullet that killed Hamilton. This, and the lack of a bullet in the ground by 63

Hamilton, tells us that Hamilton must have been shot standing up. Strangely, I only found one 64

shell casing near Hamilton’s body. I never found the second shell casing. 65

I later prepped the body itself for delivery to the morgue, and made sure to specially bag 66

Hamilton’s gloves to preserve them for gunshot residue (“GSR”) analysis. GSR testing is used 67

to determine whether someone fired a gun. If someone fires a gun, tiny particles of gunshot 68

Revised 12/16/2008

– 4 –

primer residue—simply “gunshot residue” for short—are expelled from the barrel of a firearm. 69

Gunshot residue contains heavy metals barium, lead and antimony. 70

I find GSR testing to be reliable, though its use is controversial. Several well-regarded 71

experts state that GSR testing can never determine whether someone has fired a gun. It is 72

indisputable that someone can acquire gunshot residue without actually firing a gun. You can 73

get gunshot residue on your own hands if you come into contact with someone or something 74

already covered in gunshot residue. Numerous studies have found high GSR concentrations in 75

police cars, in police stations and on police officers themselves. It’s important to perform GSR 76

testing as soon as possible, or at least immediately isolate the specimen from contamination. In 77

order to be more certain that GSR actually indicates that a person has fired a gun, some experts 78

only look for a specific type of particle—one that contains lead, barium and antimony, as 79

opposed to particles that contain any of the three metals. I used that strict standard in this case. 80

Specifically, I performed GSR testing on four surfaces: Hamilton’s gloves and Walton’s 81

hands. Walton and Hamilton are both right-handed. Hamilton’s left glove had no GSR particles. 82

Hamilton’s right glove tested positive for gunshot residue; his right glove contained more than 83

200 GSR particles, 73 of which contained all three of lead, barium and antimony. This is very 84

strong evidence that Hamilton fired a gun. Working alone, I didn’t have time or equipment to do 85

a GSR test at the scene, so I performed GSR tests on Walton’s hands and Hamilton’s gloves just 86

before midnight on September 24, 2006, right after Walton was questioned at the police station. 87

Both of Walton’s hands tested positive for gunshot residue. Walton’s right hand contained about 88

75 GSR particles, but only three that contained barium, lead and antimony. Walton’s left hand 89

contained 25 GSR particles but none that contained all three metals (lead, barium, antimony). 90

These results are inconclusive, only indicating that Walton may have fired a gun. 91

Revised 12/16/2008

– 5 –

I tested the Beretta found by Hamilton’s right hand. The Beretta 92 holds 15 bullets (14 92

in the magazine and 1 more in the chamber) but I found only 13 cartridges of standard 9mm 93

parabellum ammunition in the pistol (12 in the magazine and 1 in the chamber). The bullet 94

recovered at the Civic Center was of the same type as those found in the pistol. Minimal residue 95

build-up indicated the firearm had recently been cleaned but fired afterward. I concluded that the 96

Beretta recovered near Hamilton was the weapon that killed him. 97

I performed ballistics tests to determine the distance from which Hamilton was shot. 98

Using the Beretta and the ammunition found in it, I established a muzzle to target ratio. With a 99

contact shot, the produced stippling pattern caused by release of powder and gas particles varied 100

between no stippling at all and stippling with a ¼ radius surrounding the point of contact. At 101

three inches, the stippling pattern varied between ¼ inch and ½ inch in radius surrounding the 102

point of contact. At six inches, the stippling varied between ½ inch to 1 inch in radius. Based on 103

these tests and the autopsy report, I am 99.5% certain that the Beretta’s muzzle was between zero 104

and 4 inches from the decedent’s head at the time of discharge. The most likely scenario is a 105

contact shot—that is, the muzzle was touching Hamilton’s head at the time of discharge. 106

I also lifted seven fingerprints from the Beretta. Three of those prints were unidentifiable 107

but, with 95% certainty, I matched three of the prints to Walton’s right hand and one to Walton’s 108

left hand. I cannot determine when Walton handled the pistol. The presence of Walton’s 109

fingerprints on the pistol is unremarkable since registration records and Walton’s own admission 110

confirm that Walton owned the pistol. 111

I was present during the autopsy. As is typical for every DI, I relied on the entirety of the 112

autopsy report in forming my conclusions. I was trained in analyzing autopsy results. If 113

Hamilton was killed in a manner other than suicide, I wanted to determine the height of the 114

Revised 12/16/2008

– 6 –

shooter, but the angle of the entrance wound combined with Hamilton’s height means that the 115

shooter could have been any height (assuming, of course, that this was not a suicide). 116

I considered all of the evidence—the autopsy report, the gunshot residue testing, the 117

ballistics exams, and the fingerprints—in determining whether Hamilton’s death was homicide 118

or suicide. I acknowledge that it is possible that Hamilton’s death was a homicide. Most 119

suicides involve only one gunshot, rather than the two fired here. About a third of all suicide 120

victims leave a suicide note, but none was found here. And some of the forensic evidence is 121

consistent with homicide. Ultimately, however, the totality of forensic evidence caused me to 122

conclude that suicide was the more likely manner of death. Namely, the GSR testing, the 123

autopsy results, the fact this was probably a contact wound, and the location of the gun all 124

indicate a death scenario of suicide. Based on my conclusion, the Midlands Coroner’s Office 125

announced Hamilton’s death as a suicide on the evening of September 25, 2006. 126

I hereby attest to having read the above statement and swear or affirm it to be my own. 127

By signing this document I swear to or affirm the truthfulness of its content. I understand that I 128

have an opportunity to update this affidavit and that unless such is done prior to such a time 129

whereas I may be called upon to testify in court, and that in such an event a copy of my updated 130

statement is given to all parties involved in this case, I am bound by the content herein. 131

_________________________ 132

Mickey McQuiggan 133

Subscribed and sworn before me this day April 1, 2007 134

__________________________ 135

Carol Spencer 136

Notary Public 137

Revised 3/1/2009

– 1 –


After being duly sworn upon oath, Jan Patel hereby deposes and states as follows: 2

My name is Jan Patel. I’m thirty-two years of age, and live at 18 Eighth Street, in 3

Midlands City, Midlands. I never finished high school but I did get my G.E.D. I moved to 4

Midlands a few years ago, looking for a fresh start. I’ve held a variety of odd jobs over the 5

years, but when I moved to Midlands, I got a job as a janitor at the Midlands Civic Center, 6

basically just cleaning up after other peoples’ parties, banquets, speeches, and weddings. 7

The most exciting day of my life was September 24, 2006 because it was the day I finally 8

met my hero, Drew Walton. I’ve always enjoyed reading the tabloids magazines and watching 9

gossip shows on BNN, and Drew Walton was my favorite celebrity. I was so proud of Drew for 10

completing anger management. I remember watching the interview where Drew said, “I’ve 11

always had a problem with anger. Sometimes I’ve reacted violently to minor frustrations and 12

disagreements. But it’s a problem I acknowledge and a problem I’ve overcome.” 13

I used to pretend that I was the heir to the Walton kingdom. Drew was so cool and hip 14

and good-looking, and was always dating the newest and hottest celebrity. When I saw photos of 15

Drew Walton and Drew’s latest celebrity date, I would cut them out and put them on my 16

refrigerator—all 8 photos on my fridge include Drew! I thought about pasting my photo into 17

their photos, but decided not to because that would be creepy and, besides, it would be too much 18

work. Anyway, when I heard that Drew was running for governor, I was so inspired! 19

Anyway, I finally got to meet my hero on September 24, 2006 because Walton was in 20

some kind of debate at the Civic Center—I saw the ads with pictures of Drew Walton and Lane 21

Hamilton. When I say we “met,” it’s not like I was on stage or anything. I was working that 22

night, and just as I was taking out the garbage around 9:45 pm, I heard voices yelling in the back 23

Revised 3/1/2009

– 2 –

parking lot. I looked over in the direction of the yelling. It was hard to see. They don’t have a 24

lot of lights behind the Civic Center and it was pretty cloudy out so the moon wasn’t providing 25

much light. I saw two people standing by a huge limousine. I was about fifty feet away from the 26

limo but I have excellent eyesight. One person was standing next to the rear passenger side door, 27

which was open. Right away I recognized that person as Drew Walton. The other person was 28

standing about three feet away from Drew and was facing Drew. I recognized him as Lane 29

Hamilton. He was the one yelling. I heard Lane Hamilton scream, “I knew your father, Gerald 30

Walton, and you, Drew, are no Gerald Walton!” Drew and Lane Hamilton were standing still, 31

like mannequins at those nice department stores I walk by sometimes. I could see that 32

Hamilton’s lips were moving, but he wasn’t speaking loudly enough for me to hear. 33

I saw that Hamilton was holding a gun in his right hand. He was holding the gun in front 34

of him, about waist high, and was looking down at the gun. He wasn’t pointing the gun at 35

anyone but since I wasn’t sure what was going on, I decided to go get help. I turned away from 36

Drew and Lane Hamilton and began jogging back toward the Civic Center, where I thought I 37

could get a security guard. About five seconds after I turned away from the confrontation 38

between Drew and Hamilton, I heard what sounded like a gunshot, so I ducked down and 39

covered my ears. Then I heard another shot. I didn’t see who fired the shots because I was 40

facing the Civic Center, not the limo. But I assume it was Hamilton who fired the gun—not 41

Drew—because Hamilton was the one who had the gun. Besides, Drew wouldn’t hurt anyone. 42

Eventually, after about thirty seconds after the gunshots, I got the courage to look behind 43

me. Hamilton was on the ground and he wasn’t moving. The gun was lying on the ground about 44

a foot-and-and-a-half away from his right hand. I saw Drew Walton hunched over Hamilton’s 45

body, which was sprawled out on the ground. I’m pretty sure I saw Walton performing CPR, but 46

Revised 3/1/2009

– 3 –

I was too far away to know for sure. I turned back toward the Civic Center and called for help. 47

Then I turned back toward Drew and Hamilton, and I started walking toward them. The gun 48

now seemed a lot closer to Hamilton’s right hand—maybe about six inches away. 49

A few seconds later, more people came running out of the back door, one even carrying a 50

huge TV camera. Police came pretty fast, too, and the whole area was taped off within about 51

five minutes. Naturally, the place was an absolute zoo. There were a lot of reporters—probably 52

because of the whole debate thing from earlier that night—but the only one I recognized was 53

Reagan Thomas from BNN. Thomas is always doing great celebrity interviews. I learned from 54

Thomas’s interviews which tattoo is Angelina’s favorite and why Gwyneth likes strange baby 55

names. All the reporters were asking questions but the only one I felt comfortable talking to was 56

Thomas. So at about 9:55 pm, I went up to Thomas and said, “I saw the whole thing. I saw the 57

shooting. I can tell you it was a suicide. I can tell you that Drew Walton had nothing to do with 58

it. Do you want to interview me on camera? I’m ready to tell America what I saw.” I really 59

wanted to make sure that Drew didn’t get in trouble and I thought it would be exciting to be on 60

camera. Maybe I could become famous! And maybe Drew would want to thank me! 61

But Reagan Thomas totally blew me off. Thomas gave me this look like I was a crazy 62

person and walked away without saying anything or asking a single question. I must have 63

seemed a little bit nuts since I was talking so fast and excitedly to Thomas. But why wouldn’t 64

Thomas at least find out what I saw before just walking away? Right after Thomas walked 65

away, someone said, “My name is Larson. I’m an internet blogger. I have a few questions for 66

you.” I gave Larson the full story of what I saw. I wish I could have told Thomas. 67

The police, however, had tons of questions. I told them everything I saw. My shift 68

didn’t end until 4:00 am so I went back inside the Civic Center to finish the cleanup. I went over 69

Revised 3/1/2009

– 4 –

to Hamilton’s dressing room. I was hoping to find a suicide note since that would show that 70

Drew Walton was innocent. But all I found were Lane Hamilton’s clothes and briefcase. He 71

sure had a lot of neckties. I decided to be a snoop so I opened up the briefcase. I found a yellow 72

legal pad and a medicine bottle. The pad had two pages of notes about guns and killing and 73

fancy words like “deterrence” and “regulation”—I recognized them from my GED studying. 74

The medicine bottle had a label that said, “Zoloft.” I shook the bottle—it was empty. I carried 75

all of the stuff I found in Hamilton’s dressing room out to the police. I thought they would thank 76

me for helping out. Instead, they yelled at me for interfering with a police crime scene. Maybe 77

when I’m Mayor or Governor or President they’ll treat me with a little more respect. 78

I hereby attest to having read the above statement and swear or affirm it to be my own. 79

By signing this document I swear to or affirm the truthfulness of its content. I understand that I 80

have an opportunity to update this affidavit and that unless such is done prior to such a time 81

whereas I may be called upon to testify in court, and that in such an event a copy of my updated 82

statement is given to all parties involved in this case, I am bound by the content herein. 83

_________________________ 84

Jan Patel 85

Subscribed and sworn before me this day April 1, 2007 86

__________________________ 87

Carol Spencer 88

Notary Public89

– 1 –


After being duly sworn upon oath, Leslie Richards hereby deposes and states as follows: 2

My name is Leslie Richards. I was born in 1965. I attended Ventura Community 3

College and earned my Bachelors in psychology summa cum laude from Pace University in 4

1987. After that, Loyola Medical School won the recruiting battle, giving me a $50,000 5

scholarship, and that’s where I earned my medical degree with a residency in clinical psychiatry. 6

In 1993, I became licensed and board certified in Clinical Psychiatry. 7

I spent a few years at an anger management clinic in St. Paul before moving to Midlands 8

to start my own private practice. I work with patients suffering from a variety of disorders but 9

my specialty has always been working those who have trouble controlling their emotions. 10

Sometimes I get clients through referrals and other times I am appointed by the court following 11

resolution of criminal litigation. I’ve published articles on the topic of anger management in 12

noteworthy journals. From that exposure, I’ve had the chance to treat some high-profile patients, 13

including Matty Reese, the Staten Island high school basketball coach with a famous temper, and 14

Talian Trojan, the former public defender who snapped and attacked one of his clients. 15

My highest profile patient, however, was Drew Walton. In 2000, I was approached by 16

Drew Walton’s attorney, Laura Ryan, who explained that Drew had just been charged with 17

assault for pushing a reporter off of a motorcycle because that reporter had insulted Drew. 18

Walton offered to plead guilty if the Polk County District Attorney’s Office wouldn’t pursue jail 19

time. Because, as Ms. Ryan coolly explained, this wasn’t Drew’s first public display of physical 20

aggression, the DA’s office only agreed to the plea deal on the condition that Drew seek 21

professional help. Ms. Ryan asked if I would treat Drew and I accepted. As part of the plea 22

– 2 –

agreement, I was to treat Drew until I felt that Drew was no longer a threat to Drew or the public. 23

The therapy could last one session or several years—until I signed off. 24

In March 2001, Drew came into my office for our first meeting. I could tell right 25

away—it only took a few gestures, a few perfect pauses—that Drew had the charisma that comes 26

from being a celebrity. I expected a level of pomposity but I found Drew to be humble, open and 27

cooperative. We discussed Drew’s childhood, teenage years, college experience, and adult life. 28

Drew acknowledged a history of physical aggression dating back to childhood. Drew recounted 29

shoving matches with cousins, a shouting episode with a professor, and several confrontations 30

with the media. No one had been hurt during these incidents, and each was precipitated by some 31

external stimulus that would upset a reasonable person. The problem was that Drew’s reaction 32

was always disproportionate to the stimulus. While most individuals would feel frustrations in 33

the situations Drew recounted, few would allow that frustration to turn into physical aggression. 34

By the end of that first session, I had diagnosed Drew with a minor impulse control 35

disorder. This sounds more serious than it actually is. Drew’s disorder didn’t come close to the 36

more serious impulse control disorders, such as intermittent explosive disorder, pyromania (fire 37

starting), or trichotillomania (pulling one’s hair out). These versions of impulse control disorder 38

require extensive treatment, including drugs, daily counseling and in some cases, hospitalization. 39

Drew did not need these treatments. Nonetheless, I operated out of an abundance of caution. I 40

wanted to make certain that Drew’s minor impulse control disorder didn’t turn into something 41

larger. I scheduled Drew for monthly one-hour sessions. My goal was to determine the cause 42

behind Drew’s anger. I figured if I could identify the cause, I could alleviate the disorder. 43

I met with Drew once per month from March 2001 until June 2004. Drew never missed 44

or rescheduled an appointment, and Drew’s attitude remained cooperative throughout our 45

– 3 –

sessions. In my opinion, it was obvious that Drew wasn’t just going through the motions—Drew 46

admitted a problem and genuinely wanted to improve. It took a few months, but the root of 47

Drew’s disorder became clear. All of the incidents of aggression in Drew’s adult life involved 48

the media. Even during our sessions, Drew became visibly upset when talking about how 49

reporters and photographers were overly intrusive. I saw Drew’s fists clench and Drew’s nostrils 50

flare when talking about the reporters. Drew’s voice sometimes grew inappropriately loud when 51

recounting past incidents in which reporters became too interested in Drew’s affairs. 52

But as time went on, I realized that Drew’s resentment of the media’s incessant attention 53

was only a symptom of a larger, deeper issue. Drew’s father, Gerald Walton, was a successful 54

politician, serving as Midlands Governor, state assembly member and Midlands congressional 55

Representative to the House. This busy political career left little time or attention for Drew 56

Walton, an only child. Drew resented this lack of attention. The attention and intrusion of the 57

media only reminded Drew of the lack of attention that Drew was receiving from Drew’s father, 58

Gerald Walton. Each time a reporter or photographer would ask questions about Drew’s private 59

life, it would highlight for Drew that Drew’s own father never asked these questions. Drew’s 60

feelings of abandonment and neglect turned into anger whenever reporters got too close. 61

Once I had this realization—it was mid-2003—we began to focus more on Drew’s 62

relationship with Drew’s father, and less on Drew’s relationship with the media. Eventually, 63

based on my urging, Drew asked Gerald to join us for one therapy session. That was a rough 50 64

minutes. Drew told Gerald how hard it was growing up, feeling like everyone knew Drew’s 65

father except for Drew. Drew talked about feeling unwanted. Drew talked about how much 66

Drew had always looked up to Gerald. It was clear that Drew had never shared these feelings 67

with Gerald before. Gerald was extremely receptive, especially given how difficult it must be 68

– 4 –

for any parent to hear how much pain they’ve caused their own child. Gerald apologized. 69

Gerald explained that he always felt his greatest sacrifice for Midlands had been the fact that he 70

hadn’t been able to spend enough time with Drew. He told Drew that he wanted that to change. 71

Both Waltons cried quite a bit and the session ended with a promise to communicate more and 72

share each other’s lives. This session with Gerald present was a real breakthrough. 73

I treated Drew for about one more year after this session. Drew began to discuss 74

following the family tradition of politics. Drew joined the PTA, started a non-profit and became 75

more involved with the community. This brought increased media attention, but I am unaware 76

of any outbursts or incidents during the time I treated Drew. By June 2004, I was reasonably 77

convinced that Drew was no longer suffering from any impulse control disorder and I felt that 78

our anger management sessions were no longer necessary. I signed off on the end of Drew’s 79

anger management therapy. Drew thanked me for my help and promised to stay in touch. 80

Months later, Drew’s father became ill. Gerald had cancer and his death appeared 81

imminent. Drew called me a few times and we discussed Gerald’s condition. There was an 82

incident in late 2004 in which a reporter made a comment about Gerald Walton when Drew was 83

visiting Gerald after a chemotherapy appointment. Drew admitted to me that Drew had thrown a 84

brick at the reporter’s car. It was Drew’s only (known) act of physical aggression since 2000. I 85

was concerned but chalked it up to the fact that Drew was going through a difficult period. 86

Gerald Walton passed away in 2005. Drew immediately announced a candidacy for the 87

governor’s office. Naturally, because of Drew’s known history of physical aggression and anger, 88

the media had questions about Drew’s psychological condition. About a month into the 89

campaign, Drew called me on the telephone, explaining that voters had a right to know about 90

Drew’s mental condition. Drew authorized me—orally and in writing—to release all of my files 91

– 5 –

to the media. Drew made those files, along with Drew’s medical files, available on Drew’s 92

campaign website, for the whole world to see. This included Drew’s descriptions of becoming 93

violent with reporters, Drew’s troubled childhood, and our session with Gerald. 94

Drew authorized me to meet with any reporters who had questions about Drew’s anger 95

management treatment, and even agreed to reimburse me for any time spent dealing with the 96

press. I was uncomfortable sharing my former patient’s personal information, but it was Drew’s 97

wish, so I obliged. For a week, it was an absolute frenzy. Newspapers and television networks 98

across the country had questions. I was featured on all of the major stations. It was excellent for 99

business. Indeed, every time I publicly discuss Drew Walton, it increases my notoriety and the 100

demand my services. I’ve doubled my hourly rate since 2004 from $200 an hour to $400. 101

The constant media attention stopped about a week after it began and I didn’t hear from 102

any major networks until autumn 2006. In early September, I received a call from a reporter 103

named Reagan Thomas for BNN. Thomas asked for a brief interview on the morning of 104

September 24, 2006. Thomas said, “I’m going to be in Midlands for the Walton-Hamilton 105

debate. If you can meet that morning, I’d really appreciate it.” I double-checked with Drew, 106

who was reluctant. Drew said, “BNN is always criticizing me and running negative stories. I 107

don’t understand why they want to interview you now. I thought this issue was behind me.” 108

Ultimately, Drew decided to let BNN interview me. I called Thomas and scheduled the 109

interview for 11:00 am on September 24, 2006. 110

Thomas was very professional during the interview. Thomas began by thanking me for 111

agreeing to meet. Thomas said, “I know my company hasn’t been the biggest fan of Drew 112

Walton. I appreciate your willingness and Drew’s willingness to allow this interview despite our 113

recent coverage.” Thomas began by asking the usual questions about Drew’s three years of 114

– 6 –

treatment. I started to explain Drew’s progress but Thomas cut me off, asking for the specifics 115

of Drew’s incidents of aggression. I described them in detail. Then I explained why I signed off 116

on the termination of my treatment of Drew—because Drew no longer exhibited the signs of 117

someone suffering from impulse control disorder. Again, Thomas cut me off, asking questions 118

about whether Drew still had a problem with reporters. A lot of the answers to Thomas’s 119

questions were contained in the records Drew made public—I wondered whether Thomas had 120

done any homework. I also wondered why Thomas was only asking about negative information. 121

But then Thomas asked a rather insightful question, one no reporter had ever asked me. 122

“I understand you think Walton is no longer a threat. But are there any circumstances under 123

which you could envision Drew Walton acting violently, really hurting someone?” I told Reagan 124

Thomas that the one sore spot for Drew remained Gerald Walton. I explained that Drew carried 125

enormous emotional baggage regarding Gerald, as evidenced by the 2004 brick-throwing 126

incident. I said, “I don’t think Drew would become violent again. Drew seems to have grown 127

up and really turned the corner. Look at how well Drew has handled the scrutiny of a 128

gubernatorial campaign. However, I must acknowledge the fact that impulse control disorder is 129

often never fully cured. We do our best to manage the anger, but it’s still there. The one 130

circumstance where I see the potential for disproportionate physical aggression would be a 131

scenario involving Gerald Walton. If a reporter were to somehow insult Drew’s father, an 132

aggressive response by Drew is not out of the question.” Reagan Thomas wrote that down. I felt 133

terrible—Drew was my patient and I would never want to hurt Drew’s reputation, especially not 134

with a reporter who seemed intent on finding dirt. But Drew had instructed me to answer fully 135

and honestly, so that’s what I did. As soon as I told Thomas about the possibility of Drew 136

– 7 –

becoming enraged by situations involving Drew’s late father, Thomas ended the interview. 137

“That’s what I was looking for,” Thomas said. 138

I didn’t hear from BNN again until after Drew Walton sued BNN. I was subpoenaed. 139

BNN then provided me with affidavits written by Drew Walton and Harley Kim. BNN took my 140

deposition, in which I explained my conclusion that, based on my review of the affidavits, it is 141

unlikely that Drew’s impulse-control disorder would have caused Drew to shoot Lane Hamilton 142

in response to Hamilton’s remarks in the parking lot. While I expect that Hamilton’s comment 143

about Gerald Walton angered Drew, my experience with Drew tells me that Drew would not 144

shoot a man merely because of a comment about Gerald. In my professional opinion, based on 145

sufficient facts and the standard principles in my field, Drew did not shoot Lane Hamilton. 146

Nonetheless, BNN decided to subpoena me as a witness at trial. I apologized to Drew but told 147

Drew that I had no choice but to testify candidly. 148

I hereby attest to having read the above statement and swear or affirm it to be my own. 149

By signing this document I swear to or affirm the truthfulness of its content. I understand that I 150

have an opportunity to update this affidavit and that unless such is done prior to such a time 151

whereas I may be called upon to testify in court, and that in such an event a copy of my updated 152

statement is given to all parties involved in this case, I am bound by the content herein. 153

_________________________ 154

Leslie Richards 155

Subscribed and sworn before me this day April 1, 2008 156

__________________________ 157

Trish Kapadia 158

Notary Public 159

Revised 3/1/2009

– 1 –


After being duly sworn upon oath, Reagan Thomas hereby deposes and states as follows: 2

My name is Reagan Thomas. I was born in 1977. I live primarily at 4120 Madison 3

Avenue, New York, New York, but don’t expect to find me there, because on any given night, I 4

could be anywhere in the world. 5

I majored in journalism at Columbia University. After school, I worked for some small 6

time papers and local television stations before I got a job at BNN in 2004. It wasn’t exactly my 7

dream job. I didn’t work hard in school so I could report on celebrity gossip. But BNN is a 8

national name and I figured that once I made my mark with BNN, I could get a job with one of 9

the more serious networks. I want to be the Tom Brokaw or Katie Couric of my generation. 10

Since working for BNN, I’ve worked as a reporter, investigative journalist and news anchor. 11

Occasionally I do special interviews and field reports but until I became famous as a result of 12

Lane Hamilton’s death, I never got to report on anything major. 13

On the night of September 24, 2006, I had an odd assignment: BNN wanted me to go to 14

Midlands City and cover a gun control debate between gubernatorial candidate Drew Walton and 15

Professor Lane Hamilton. This was strange for a few reasons. First, BNN doesn’t cover 16

debates—certainly not political debates. We do political scandals, murder investigations and 17

celebrity gossip. True, we’ve covered Drew Walton a lot in the past, but Walton is a major 18

celebrity. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen Walton’s face on magazine covers at the 19

supermarket checkout. But even if our BNN viewers were interested in Walton, there was no 20

way they’d be interested in a gun control debate. 21

Second, and even stranger, was the fact that BNN was sending such top-level personnel. 22

The network flew me and Harley Kim, an experienced photojournalist, out to Midlands City 23

Revised 3/1/2009

– 2 –

when they could have just used some less experienced local people. They also booked a local 24

satellite truck for us to have live capabilities and the ability to feed back footage. The network 25

assigned producer Fran Martin to the story. Martin is one of our most experienced and respected 26

producers. BNN usually saves its top producers like Martin for big events. And to top it off, 27

BNN President Kit Berkshire called me a week before the debate. I’d never before spoken to 28

Berkshire, let alone met Berkshire. Berkshire said, “I will make sure I’m available on the night 29

of the debate. If you have any questions—any—you call me.” I asked Berkshire why BNN was 30

investing so many resources into this debate, and Berkshire responded, “Let’s just say I have an 31

interest in Midlands’s favorite child and a history with the Walton family. I want you to get 32

some dirt no matter what it takes.” I promised to do my best. I was flattered that Berkshire 33

chose me for this when it clearly meant so much to Berkshire, and I was excited that I was going 34

to get to do some real journalism. 35

I arrived in Midlands on September 24, 2006. I started with an interview scheduled with 36

Doctor Leslie Richards, Drew Walton’s anger management therapist. I thought it would make 37

good background material for my story. After that, I arrived at the Midlands Civic Center at 38

6:45 with photojournalist Harley Kim. I’d never worked with Kim before but had heard good 39

things. The debate was supposed to start a little after 8:00 and end at around 9:15. All of the 40

other studios were setting up to cover the debate, but Harley and I just relaxed and got a lay of 41

the land. Producer Fran Martin had told us that BNN wouldn’t be airing or reporting on the 42

debate itself. We were there to ask some tough questions afterwards. Harley and I agreed to be 43

ready at 9. I watched the debate and prepared my list of hard-hitting questions for Walton. I 44

wanted to ask about Walton’s political inexperience, about the vagueness of Walton’s economic 45

plan, and Walton’s stance on gay marriage. I jotted down my prepared questions and emailed 46

Revised 3/1/2009

– 3 –

them to Martin. A few minutes later, I got an email back from Martin. Martin had nixed all of 47

my political questions and replaced them with silly, superficial questions. I was furious. How 48

was I supposed to get my big break if all I could ask were these puff questions? 49

Harley Kim returned around 9:10. Kim’s eyes were bloodshot, Kim wore a goofy smile, 50

and I smelled beer on Kim’s breath. I asked, “Are you drunk?” but Kim said, “I’m fine. Let’s 51

go get a great soundbite from Dale Walton.” As soon as the debate ended at 9:15 or so, we went 52

backstage to a press conference. Both Walton and Hamilton were there, but all of the questions 53

were directed towards Walton. I raised my hand and got called on quickly. I asked one of the 54

fluff questions Martin had sent me. “Next question,” Walton responded. I waited a few 55

questions and jumped in again, asking “Drew, who are you dating now? Are you still seeing that 56

French model?” Walton paused and said, “I’m running for governor of the great state of 57

Midlands. It’s a serious job that requires real ideas. That’s why I’m only going to answer 58

questions from real reporters.” I felt humiliated. At that moment, I felt like I was going to spend 59

the rest of my life interviewing reality television contestants using the last sixty seconds of their 60

fifteen minutes of fame. 61

Realizing that Walton wasn’t going to answer any of my questions, I told Harley Kim to 62

wait out by the truck while I took a peek in Walton’s dressing room. I figured that if I found 63

something interesting, I could make that the basis of my story. I glanced inside Walton’s 64

dressing room, but I didn’t find much—just a few toiletries and a small picture of Walton’s 65

father, the late Governor Gerald Walton. It was 9:45. I was starting to brainstorm what kind of 66

story I was going to put together—I had no answers from Walton and nothing juicy from the 67

debate—when I heard a gun shot. I started walking toward the back of the building, where it 68

sounded like the shot came from, and then I heard another gunshot. 69

Revised 3/1/2009

– 4 –

I ran into the parking lot behind the Civic Center. The first thing I saw was Drew Walton 70

down on one knee about fifty feet away. Walton was leaning over a body on the ground. 71

Walton’s hands were on the body. I couldn’t tell what Walton was doing—it looked like Walton 72

was going through the person’s pockets or something. When I started running towards Walton, 73

Walton immediately stood and put hands up. Walton’s facial expression and body language 74

indicated guilt. Walton’s hands were covered with blood. That’s when I saw that the body on 75

the ground was Professor Hamilton, with blood everywhere. I saw a gun on the pavement a few 76

feet away. No one else was in the vicinity. I didn’t see what happened, but it was pretty obvious 77

that either Walton had shot Hamilton or Hamilton had shot himself. Within seconds, there were 78

people milling all over the place, but luckily, the building’s security team cleared out the scene 79

with surprising speed and efficiency. 80

This was a reporter’s dream. Hamilton was one of the leading American scholars. 81

Walton was one of the country’s most popular and famous celebrities, and a strong favorite to be 82

Midlands’ next governor. And here I was, the first reporter on scene. I knew right away that this 83

was going to be my big break—this was going to catapult me from BNN to real national news. I 84

turned to Harley Kim, who had come over to the edge of the taped-off area, and started shooting 85

video. Harley said, “I saw it, dude. I can’t believe it.” I hadn’t seen Harley when I came outside 86

but, to be fair, I was focused on Walton more than anyone else (a good journalist never takes his 87

or her eyes off the subject). From what Harley told me, Harley was standing outside by our 88

satellite truck when Hamilton and Walton got into an argument. Harley said, “Hamilton made a 89

mean comment about Walton’s dad, Walton got real angry and pulled out a gun, and the next 90

thing I know, I hear two shots and Hamilton is on the ground and there’s blood everywhere.” 91

Revised 3/1/2009

– 5 –

At this point, I had visions of an Emmy Award running through my head. It sounded like 92

Walton shot Hamilton because Hamilton insulted Walton’s father. This made total sense based 93

on my interview with Dr. Richards, who told me all about Walton’s famous temper, the two 94

assault convictions, one of which involved a gun and another came after a reporter insulted 95

Walton’s father. 96

Harley Kim’s story and Walton’s history convinced me that Walton had shot Hamilton. 97

Now I just needed to prove it. I looked down at my watch. It was 9:50. I knew that if I wanted 98

to be the one who broke the story, I would need to act quickly. Other reporters were standing 99

around Drew Walton, who was answering questions. I couldn’t hear what was being said and, 100

frankly, I didn’t much care. I knew Walton would just proclaim innocence. While other 101

reporters were being fed what Walton wanted them to hear, I would be getting the real story. 102

When I found out late that night that Walton did, in fact, proclaim innocence, just as I expected, I 103

felt justified in skipping Walton’s self-serving post-shooting question and answer session. 104

I grabbed Harley, who was with me the rest of the night, and started interviewing 105

everyone I could. It didn’t take long because there were so few eyewitnesses. I talked to the 106

Midlands crime scene investigator, Mickey McQuiggan, who was standing inside the taped-off 107

area that surrounded the body. I asked McQuiggan what happened. McQuiggan said, “When 108

there’s two people and one of them is dead, it sure doesn’t look good for the other one.” I started 109

jotting that down on my pad—that’s when McQuiggan realized I was a reporter. McQuiggan 110

immediately started backpedaling, saying, “I need to emphasize that our investigation is only 111

preliminary and we haven’t reached any firm conclusions regarding the events that transpired.” 112

As a reporter, I’ve learned to ignore the political double-speak and focus on what the subject 113

Revised 3/1/2009

– 6 –

says when his or her guard is down. I read between the lines and concluded that the CSI thought 114

Walton shot Hamilton. 115

I also listened to Midlands Police Captain Vanunu, who was surrounded by other 116

reporters. Captain Vanunu said that the police had already briefly questioned Walton and would 117

soon be taking Walton down to the police precinct for further questioning. Captain Vanunu said 118

Walton acknowledged that the gun found on the ground by Hamilton’s body was, in fact, 119

Walton’s gun. Vanunu ended by saying that the investigation was in its earliest stages and that 120

the only thing that could be reported with certainty was that Professor Lane Hamilton had died as 121

a result of a gunshot wound to the head. 122

Other than Harley Kim, I only spoke to two other “eyewitnesses” before calling my 123

producer but I ultimately discounted both of their stories. The first was a person wearing a 124

janitor’s uniform—the shirt read “Civic Center Maintenance.” I could tell the person was a 125

janitor by the clothing. I saw the janitor’s photograph in the newspaper the next day and learned 126

that the janitor’s name is Jan Patel. The janitor came up to me, ranting and raving, clearly eager 127

to get my attention. All the janitor said was, “Hey, Reagan! I saw everything! Hamilton 128

committed suicide. Drew Walton is totally innocent. If you want to interview me, I will tell 129

America what I saw. I will tell America that Walton is innocent.” 130

I didn’t ask Patel any questions or follow-up on Patel’s story because I didn’t trust Patel. 131

As a reporter, you have to decide which sources you trust and which ones you don’t. I’ve been 132

doing this a long time I’ve developed a pretty good sense of who’s telling the truth. Besides, I 133

didn’t have a lot of time to break this story, so I had to be selective about whom I spent time 134

interviewing. I had three good reasons for not trusting what Patel said about it being a suicide. 135

First, no offense, but Patel was just a janitor. Second, Patel clearly wanted to be on television 136

Revised 3/1/2009

– 7 –

and I’ve learned not to trust sources who want the spotlight so badly. They’ll say anything to get 137

on television. Third, when I came outside, I didn’t see Patel or anyone else in a janitor’s 138

uniform. If Patel had actually been there when the shooting happened, I would have seen Patel. 139

The other eyewitness I spoke to was Walton’s personal assistant, Casey French, who told 140

me, “I didn’t see much because after that gun came out, I stayed in the limo. But I saw what 141

happened from the rearview mirror. Everything went down real fast, but I don’t think Walton 142

had anything to do with it.” I had trouble believing that French was able to see much through a 143

rearview mirror in a poorly-lighted parking lot on a dark night. When you toss in the gunshot 144

and the fact French was Walton’s personal assistant, I figured French was too scared and too 145

biased to be a trustworthy source. 146

I put all of my credible information together and concluded that Walton shot Hamilton. 147

That’s what it looked like when I came out of the building, that’s what Harley Kim saw, and 148

that’s what the police captain and the CSI seemed to be saying. At 10:05, I called Fran Martin to 149

get the green light to break in to normal programming and go live with the story. I told Martin 150

about everyone I’d interviewed, including Harley Kim, Mickey McQuiggan, Captain Vanunu, 151

the janitor and Casey French. I told Martin that I had wisely skipped the Walton parking lot 152

“press conference” since I knew the other networks’ reporters would be listening to Walton’s 153

self-serving drivel while I got the real scoop. Martin, however, failed to see the wisdom of my 154

decision to skip the Walton question-and-answer, and told me I should have listened to what 155

Walton had to say. 156

After I gave Martin the information I had gathered, I told Martin that I wanted to get on 157

air and break the story that Lane Hamilton was dead and it appeared Drew Walton was 158

responsible. Martin said no. “We don’t have enough evidence to make that accusation. You 159

Revised 3/1/2009

– 8 –

have conflicting eyewitness accounts and inconclusive statements from the police. We’re not 160

running that story until you have a lot more solid information,” Martin said. 161

I hung up the phone stunned. As a journalist, I know that I need to be cautious, but this 162

was a huge story and there’s no use being the second network to deliver it. Everyone remembers 163

that Lindbergh was the first to cross the Atlantic, but does anyone remember who was second? 164

Martin’s timidity was going to cost the network ratings and it was going to cost me the kind of 165

job that my journalism skills deserved. So I called Kit Berkshire, who picked up immediately. I 166

told Berkshire exactly what I told Martin. But instead of criticizing my decision to skip the 167

Walton question and answer session, Berkshire complimented me. “Good thinking,” Berkshire 168

said. “You got the real story while everyone else was taken in by Walton’s spin machine.” 169

Berkshire promised to call master control and authorize a breaking news cut-in report. Berkshire 170

said, “Make sure you don’t overstate things. Just stick to what you know and offer anything else 171

in terms of your opinion.” Within a few moments, we had a satellite window booked, and I was 172

reporting live from the Civic Center. 173

I made an honest, detailed presentation based on the facts available at the time. I 174

composed myself as much as possible under the circumstances, and told America about what had 175

just happened. I was careful not to sound too certain about what had happened, because this was 176

by no means an open-and-shut case. I reported what I saw, what others had confirmed, and what 177

the evidence indicated. Besides, I never outright said that it was murder, I just indicated that it 178

looked like Walton was somehow partly responsible for the death. I was only reporting my 179

opinion of the facts. 180

The next day, the police ruled Hamilton’s death a suicide. I have strong doubts about 181

that. I stand by my report as being a well-founded piece of investigative journalism and live 182

Revised 3/1/2009

– 9 –

reporting, particularly in light of the fact that this was a hot news story. My investigation and 183

broadcast report both complied with BNN’s standards for investigative journalism, as described 184

in Kit Berkshire’s January 1, 2004 memo. That memo still serves as a summary of the principles 185

to which we at BNN always strive to adhere. 186

I assumed that this story would catapult me into the big time, but I didn’t find it as easy 187

as I expected to get a gig with the serious networks. One network executive told me that my 188

Walton news report was “sloppy journalism” and another told me that her network “couldn’t 189

afford the liability insurance it would take” to hire me. BNN, however, was very pleased with 190

my performance. Berkshire authorized a big raise. Now I’m one of BNN’s biggest star anchors. 191

I may not be covering the serious news I’d always dreamed about, but I’m on national television 192

all the time and paid handsomely for my efforts. I owe BNN and Berkshire a lot. 193

I hereby attest to having read the above statement and swear or affirm it to be my own. 194

By signing this document I swear to or affirm the truthfulness of its content. I understand that I 195

have an opportunity to update this affidavit and that unless such is done prior to such a time 196

whereas I may be called upon to testify in court, and that in such an event a copy of my updated 197

statement is given to all parties involved in this case, I am bound by the content herein. 198

_________________________ 199

Reagan Thomas 200

Subscribed and sworn before me this day April 1, 2007 201

__________________________ 202

Carol Spencer 203

Notary Public 204

Revised 3/1/2009

– 1 –


After being duly sworn upon oath, Drew Walton hereby deposes and states as follows: 2

My name is Drew Walton. I was born in 1975 and I live at 238 Chestnut Avenue in 3

Brookridge, Midlands, a suburb of Midlands City. My father was Midlands Governor Gerald 4

Walton and my grandfather was Midlands Governor David Walton. As my parents’ only child, 5

it was always assumed that I would follow the family legacy of public service. But for a long 6

time I had no interest in politics. Maybe it was rebellion. Maybe it was a desire to find my own 7

way. Maybe it was something else. Regardless of the reason, I was the first Walton to turn 8

down Harvard and instead attend Midlands State University, where my official major was 9

political science but the more accurate label would have been “partying.” 10

For the ten years after I finished high school, I was a paparazzi favorite, dating various 11

celebrities and filling the covers of every tabloid and gossip magazine to find a newsstand. 12

Sometimes the paparazzi became too pushy. When that happened, I pushed back. That led to 13

three assault charges. The first assault charge came in 2000 when I pushed a reporter off his 14

motorcycle because he was asking some rude questions. I pled guilty and paid a fine. The 15

second assault charge came in 2002 when I pulled out my handgun after a reporter snuck into our 16

backyard and started taking photos. My family got that charge dismissed. And the third assault 17

charge came in 2004 when a reporter made a nasty comment about my father and I threw a brick 18

at his car. I pled guilty that time, too. I’ve always had a temper. I sought treatment for my 19

problem and worked with Dr. Leslie Richards to control my anger issues. 20

I stopped the partying and superficial lifestyle in 2005 when my father became sick. He 21

told me that life was measured by giving back and he made me promise that I would follow the 22

Revised 3/1/2009

– 2 –

family legacy of community work. I would do anything to make my father proud—the thought 23

of letting him down is unacceptable. 24

The day after he passed away I began to honor that promise by announcing my candidacy 25

for the Midlands governorship. In February 2006, I easily won the nomination of Midlands’s 26

more conservative party and by autumn 2006, I held a 12-point lead over my liberal opponent, 27

incumbent Governor Neal McGivern. I decided to make crime prevention the central issue of 28

my campaign. McGivern’s administration had seen the crime rate rise by 20% and the murder 29

rate by 15%. My family had always been tough on crime and, just like my father and 30

grandfather, I believe that the best way to protect the public from criminals is to allow them to 31

defend themselves. That’s why I support a citizen’s right to bear arms, and why I have a 32

conceal-and-carry permit and carry a gun myself. 33

Originally I planned to debate McGivern on the gun control issue, but with me up 12 34

points and McGivern struggling to raise funds, why give him free airtime? My campaign 35

advisors had a better idea, one that would help me not only in the governor’s race, but would 36

raise my national profile, possibly toward a presidential run down the road. They scheduled me 37

to debate noted gun control proponent Midlands University Professor Lane Hamilton. That way 38

I got the media attention that comes with a debate but avoided giving my gubernatorial opponent 39

the same airtime. We scheduled the debate for Sunday, September 24, 2006 at the Midlands 40

Civic Center in Polk County. All the media networks were covering the debate—I guess the 41

Walton name still means something. 42

We took the stage at 8 and the debate was one-sided from the start. Hamilton’s style may 43

work in the classroom but in the political arena, that university professor nuanced-argument 44

routine wasn’t going to cut it. Five minutes in, it was obvious that Hamilton knew he was 45

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completely out of his league. He became agitated. He started stuttering and sweating, and his 46

performance just spiraled downwards. I almost felt bad for the guy, but I couldn’t pull any 47

punches because this was a chance to launch my career definitively into the national limelight. 48

The knockout blow came in the last ten minutes. Hamilton tried to gather some 49

momentum by talking passionately about the fact that people who purchase guns are far more 50

likely to commit suicide. I responded, “Professor, you know as well as anyone that if a person is 51

unhappy enough, they don’t need a gun to end their life. Think about all of the people who 52

commit suicide through other means…like pills.” I paused right before I said “like pills” and 53

looked squarely at Hamilton. You see, my research team had learned that Hamilton’s father had 54

committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills. I knew my subtle rebuttal—one that only 55

Hamilton would understand the personal reference to him—would throw off my opponent 56

without alerting the audience. It worked. When I mentioned the pills, Hamilton got red-faced 57

and angry, and huffed off stage. 58

I stuck around to do a quick interview—all of the networks wanted to discuss my victory 59

(except BNN, who asked their typically superficial questions). After answering a few questions, 60

at about 9:40 I went out the back to my waiting car, where my personal assistant Casey French 61

was in the driver’s seat with the engine going. When you’re running for governor, you don’t 62

have a minute to waste. 63

To this day, I can scarcely believe what happened next. I opened the rear passenger side 64

door of my car, began to duck inside the car, and that’s when I heard Hamilton screaming. I 65

turned and saw Hamilton running out of the building after me. He was yelling, as if possessed, 66

“You took a cheap shot in there, Walton. You had no right dredging up my past. I knew your 67

father and if he heard your lies tonight, he would roll over in his grave.” I hesitated. On the one 68

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hand, I didn’t have time to get into an argument. On the other, I felt bad for the man, 69

embarrassed in front of so many cameras. I decided to speak with him briefly—but cautiously. 70

So before I emerged from the car, I grabbed the loaded Beretta 92 semiautomatic, single-action 71

pistol I keep in the back console for protection. I certainly didn’t think anything would happen, 72

but Hamilton was angry, and I didn’t want to take any chances. I moved the safety to the off 73

position and told Casey to stay in the car. 74

Upon seeing the pistol in my hand, Hamilton’s demeanor changed completely. A look 75

came across his face. It was the look of sadness and acceptance. I set down the pistol on the 76

back end of the car, put my arm on Hamilton’s shoulder, and told him everything would be okay. 77

He paused a moment and appeared to be thinking. Then he said quietly, almost whispering, 78

“You’re so young, you have your whole life, you don’t understand. I’ve lost my wife. I’ve lost 79

my children. All I had was my reputation and tonight I lost that.” He began to nod and smile 80

sadly, as if he had just reached a decision. Suddenly, Hamilton picked up the pistol, holding it 81

awkwardly, and fired a shot, almost as if by accident, like he didn’t know how much pressure 82

you had to put on the trigger. I took a confused step back. That’s when, without warning, 83

Hamilton lifted the gun, touched it to his temple, and shot himself in the head. I bent down to 84

check his pulse. Hamilton was dead. I’d never seen anyone commit suicide before. It was the 85

worst moment of my life. 86

The local media had been there for the post-show press conference, of course, and they 87

started coming out of the building and crowding around. I answered every one of their 88

questions, patiently and calmly – wanting to make sure everyone knew I had nothing to do with 89

Hamilton’s death – until the police arrived a few minutes later. I accompanied the police to the 90

stationhouse so I could speak with them privately. I told the police everything that happened in 91

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the studio parking lot. I told them that the gun that Hamilton used to commit suicide was my 92

gun, registered in my name. I told them I had fired the gun many times before, always in a firing 93

range. I told them that I didn’t especially like Hamilton, but I never wished anything like this on 94

him or anybody. They asked me the same questions over and over, but of course my answer 95

remained the same every time. Eventually the police seemed convinced that the death was a 96

suicide and they drove me home. 97

But when I arrived home that night, I learned that during a live broadcast—made just 98

minutes after the suicide—reporter Reagan Thomas had accused me of murdering Hamilton. I 99

couldn’t believe it. Not only had Thomas failed to ask me a single question when I spoke with 100

reporters immediately after the incident, Thomas wasn’t even among the reporters present! 101

Every other station simply reported Professor Hamilton was dead as a result of a gunshot wound 102

to the head. BNN was the only network saying I was responsible—an accusation even BNN 103

retracted via press release the very next day! 104

I shouldn’t be surprised that BNN would come after me. Its President is Kit Berkshire, 105

an executive in the media business for the last 25 years. Berkshire was an ardent liberal and so 106

never got along with my father—not when Dad was doing local politics and Berkshire was doing 107

local news, not when Dad was a party leader and Berkshire was a major media player. Berkshire 108

used to run one of the biggest news stations in the country before BNN hired Berkshire to boost 109

their ratings. As soon as I announced my candidacy for governor, BNN was a constant thorn in 110

my side. They would spin every one of my successes as failures. And when the network 111

couldn’t find a way to spin the stories, they just didn’t run them. 112

In March 2006, when I won my party’s nomination, it was with no thanks to BNN. The 113

company sent a mob of reporters to our primary debates. Since when does a TV station that 114

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normally reports on movies and fashion have multiple senior correspondents cover a relatively 115

uncompetitive gubernatorial primary? In January 2006, BNN was the first outlet to report some 116

of my closest advisers had wrongly used government money for personal purposes. In February 117

2006, BNN was the media network to “break the story” that my step-brother had cheated on his 118

taxes. Both of these BNN reports were true, but it was the special vigor and nastiness with 119

which the network reported them that clarified that BNN had it out for me. 120

The shooting was ultimately ruled a suicide but by then the Thomas accusation had done 121

its damage. I was down in the polls and the official ruling of suicide wasn’t enough to overcome 122

all of the negative press I’d gotten. My position on gun control no longer looked so wise. My 123

donors dried up, the party heads stopped showing up at my rallies, and I lost the gubernatorial 124

election on November 7. Now I’m running a non-profit and my political career appears over. A 125

vicious lie on live TV undermined a budding career in public service. It’s still hard to accept. 126

I hereby attest to having read the above statement and swear or affirm it to be my own. 127

By signing this document I swear to or affirm the truthfulness of its content. I understand that I 128

have an opportunity to update this affidavit and that unless such is done prior to such a time 129

whereas I may be called upon to testify in court, and that in such an event a copy of my updated 130

statement is given to all parties involved in this case, I am bound by the content herein. 131

_________________________ 132

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