Supreme Court postpones hearing in Aspen case, but key journalism issue persists

There was supposed to be a Supreme Court hearing today in my "Ralston Reports" producer Dana Gentry's case, one of the most egregious attempts to intimidate a journalist I have seen.

But the oral argument was vacated pending a settlement of the main case involving Aspen Financial Services, leaving in limbo owner Jeff Guinn's grotesque maneuver, though his counsel, John Bailey, to stifle Gentry's reporting. New evidence also has surfaced indicating that Guinn has little more than what his wife, in a deposition, called "a hunch" that Gentry, as they allege, has financial ties to some of those suing Guinn. (By the way, she does not.)

It's possible Guinn might settle the overarching lawsuit, especially because the high court recently rebuffed his attempts to block a deposition because of his worries about a parallel criminal probe. At a conference with a judge in late December, attorneys for the hard lender and son of the former governor expressed concern about the bad publicity the Supreme Court hearing could bring on Guinn and Aspen. (This is the second court-mandated settlment. The first went nowhere.)

The case involves investors alleging Guinn defrauded them, and Guinn/Balley don't like that Gentry has aggressively pursued the story. She consistently has sought comment from Guinn and Bailey, who have refused but then began restorting to gutter tactics to dissuade her.

I have written about this several times, including here and here. This has been a legal travesty from the beginning, with the danger of a terrible precedent being set -- that a journalist covering a story can be slowed down by making unsubstantiated (and in this case, patently false) allegations in court and forcing the reporter to answer "When did you stop beating your wife?" queries. (Their despciable conduct has had pernicious results as Gentry was taken off the Aspen story by former Sun boss Brian Greenspun, who, coincidentally, has been represented by Bailey.)

And now, there is solid evidence that Guinn and Bailey have no evidence.

In a deposition we have obtained, Monica Guinn, Jeff Guinn's wife, is asked about the allegations against Gentry and her relationship with one of the plaintiffs, Vicki Quinn, whom Gentry has known since high school:

When asked if she has "any information at all which would support or suggest that the Quinns dictated or directed what Dana Gentry broadcast on her television show," Monica Guinn answered: "It's a hunch."

 And when asked about supposed favors the Quinns gave to Gentry, Monica Guinn makes it clear in the deposition that is something she was told by her husband. Evidence? There is none.

My favorite part of the deposition, though, is when Monica Guinn is asked about the ludicrous notion that somehow the Quinns arranged for another plaintiff, Chuck Ruthe, to appear on the program and that it "would be manipulated to favor the Ruthe's (sic). Do you have any factual information to support that allegation?"

Monica Guinn: "No, I don't."

Well, no kidding.

Indeed, Monica Guinn acknowledged earlier in the deposition that she had never seen any of the programs in which we explored the lawsuit against Guinn. So she is doing second-hand what her husband is: Simply spreading stories unburdened by facts.

So you see what is at stake here, folks. It's even clearer now that Guinn and Bailey have no evidence to back up their calumny and simply invented stuff to try to back off Gentry.

Even if Guinn setttles the civil suits, Gentry needs to have her reputation cleansed of the blemishes from this sad affair. An apology would be nice, too.