Southside Light News fights deposition from a soon to be former state oil and gas regulator
The Southside Light News publisher Matt Pierce Briscoe and Corpus Christi attorney Jeff Kane have filed motions to protect freedom of speech and the press against a public official who was defeated in the March primary.
Tony Buzbee, attorney for defeated Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton filed a motion to have the news publisher deposed in an attempt to discover the source of information reported on earlier this year. In their motion they claim that Pierce Briscoe made inflammatory comments about Sitton. Sitton believes that political enemies may have put Pierce Briscoe up to publishing the story.
Pierce Briscoe and Attorney Jeff Kane fired back pointing out legal flaws in Sitton’s argument. They argue that the source is protected and that the publication merely pointed out allegations against Sitton that he denies. They also argue that the Sitton motions were filed in Harris County, where the news outlet has no following or advertiser base. They have also asked that any filings be transferred to Nueces County where any alleged wrongdoing would have had to have taken place.
“This is an attack on the constitution, the press, and liberty itself,” Pierce Briscoe says. “They are wanting to tie this thing up in court and cause both the publication and myself monetary damages in order to save their own public image.”
Piece Briscoe believes that Sitton knows the sources of the information already but doesn’t want to admit to it.
“If he admits to knowing the sources then he admits the truth of my reporting and validates the claims,” Pierce Briscoe says. “He knows the owner of the business that he defrauded and he knows the source of the sexual misconduct allegations that our source alleged in our story. There are also other things that we knew about that we did not report on because we could not vett all of the information. Had I been able to do that it could have warranted his immediate removal from office.”
The fact is also that Sitton and his attorney also filed for deposition in Harris county despite The Southside Light News not being in Harris county nor accepting advertising from Harris county businesses.