Now that the California Supreme Court has declined to hear Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McCaw’s appeal, former editor Jerry Roberts plans to seek payment of what now amounts to about $1 million in attorney fees.

After Roberts resigned on July 6, 2006, McCaw filed a $25 million breach of contract arbitration action against him, and while the arbitrator did not award damages to either one, she said that Roberts could collect his legal fees.

Jerry Roberts
Paul Wellman (file)

The state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday after considering the appeal for a month, unexpectedly quickly. McCaw could now seek a review of the case by the U.S. Supreme Court. But because there are no apparent federal or constitutional issues, there’s only “a million-to-one chance” of the court accepting the case, according Herb Fox, appeals attorney for Roberts.

But because of McCaw’s history of appeals in other cases, she might go to the high court. “As far as we are concerned, the case is over,” Fox said. He said he will now proceed to “nicely” seek payment.

“This is a great day for journalism,” said Roberts. “Professionally, it’s extremely gratifying to receive this final vindication in a fight for journalistic ethics, alongside many colleagues who sacrificed jobs, careers, and more on behalf of principle.

“On a personal level,” he went on, “my family and I couldn’t be more pleased that California’s highest court, like every other trier of fact in the matter, found no merit in the baseless case brought against me.”


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