TRIAL STILL SET TO START SOON
By STEVE WILSON
TAMPA (September 20, 1999)--After a long, hot Florida summer of more depositions and pre-trial maneuvers, trial
in the case of Wilson and Akre v New World (Fox TV) is still scheduled to start October 11th although
further delay seems inevitable.
The trial of a multi-million-dollar dispute between two giant businesses gets underway today (September 20)
in the same Tampa court where the Fox trial is set to be heard--and courthouse sources say the trial that begins
today is expected to last six to eight weeks. If true, mid-November would seem to be the earliest possible start
date the Fox matter could get underway...and that presumes no other trials have been set between the two.
Defendant attorney, Pat Anderson, takes deposition
from foxBGHsuit.com webmaster, Jon Duffey
60 Minutes crew and Judge Gaspar Ficarrotta
Prepare for August 26th Hearing
Although exact scheduling in Hillsborough County "Division D" is always unclear until the judge addresses
the matter in each case, he is expected to give a strong indication at the Fox pre-trial conference set for September
Still pending before the busy judge is Fox's third effort to gut the case against the defendant. Last month,
attorney William McDaniels of the Washington firm Williams & Connolly filed a mountain of papers along with
a Motion For Partial Summary Judgment in the case. At an August 26 hearing, he argued the journalists' whistleblower
claim should be thrown out primarily because only the FCC has the right to pass judgment on whether a broadcast
licensee deliberately tried to slant the news.
Attorney John Chamblee who represents reporter Jane Akre argued against the motion and provided an equally-thorough
written brief to the Court. The "weight of the evidence" submitted to the judge on this issue alone is
more than 20 pounds. This reporter, who has represented himself throughout most of the pre-trial proceedings,
also presented an oral argument that the dispute was much more than an honest editorial disagreement as Fox has
In Florida as in many other jurisdictions, there is a very high standard to be met before denying a party an
opportunity to try a claim before a jury. A similar Motion by Fox was denied months ago by Judge Robert Bonanno
as was a Motion To Dismiss the claim shortly after it was filed.
John Chamblee, Steve Wilson,
Jane Akre (seated,) and William McDaniels
at August 26th hearing
As the pre-trial process continues, both sides have exchanged lists of witnesses expected to testify at the
Nader at 60's congressional hearing
and covers from two of his many books
The journalists' witness list includes the name of consumer activist Ralph Nader who has agreed to come to Florida
to testify as an expert about the public interest. Broadcasters who use the public airwaves are mandated to act
in the public interest, especially in the news reports they broadcast. Fox attorneys have indicated informally
that they will do their best to block Nader's testimony.
Fox has listed Don
Heider, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Florida, as their expert in journalism. At
Heider lists 10 years of experience in broadcast news "as a reporter, producer, photographer and manager."
He began on the air at a local station in Cheyenne, Wyoming and then worked in off-camera positions at two Nashville,
Tennessee TV outlets.