Fearing that a legal battle would bankrupt them, the Santa Barbara Daily Sound opted to turn over some 144 unpublished photos of the aftermath of the March 14 fatal gang brawl on State Street. Last Monday, July 30, Judge Brian Hill ordered that the year-and-half-old paper hand over the photos or face contempt of court charges and possible jail time on Monday. Though he said he loathed doing it, Daily Sound publisher Jeramy Gordon reluctantly gave permission to his lawyer, Michael Cooney, to submit the digital pictures to the courts Thursday afternoon. In a statement released following the hand off, Gordon said, “This is a sad day for journalism and for our rights as Americans: Every ounce of my being wants to keep fighting, keep standing up for what I believe in, but I have to balance those instincts with my fiscal responsibilities to my family and friends who backed me in the Daily Sound.”
The pictures had been subpoenaed by public defender Karen Atkins in the name of her client 14-year-old Ricardo Juarez as means of trying to prove his innocence in the stabbing murder of 15-year-old Luis Angel Linares. Gordon and his lawyer contended - and continue to contend -that the photos were neither damning nor exonerating to Juarez but rather that Atkins’ demands were the result of a vendetta against the paper for their initial printing of her client’s likeness in the days after the murder. In a move designed to prove that they have nothing to hide, the Daily Sound printed dozens of the unpublished photos in the Friday addition of their paper.