The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

July 17, 2013
Gadfly publisher Tim Crews wins appellate court ruling

Tim Crews.JPGA state appellate court today struck down a lower court order that threatened to bankrupt Willows newspaper publisher Tim Crews by imposing $56,595 in attorneys' costs and fees after he filed a public records act request.

Writing for the three judge panel, Justice Andrea Hoch concluded that Glenn County Judge Peter Twede improperly imposed the fees on Crews, the owner, publisher and editor of the Sacramento Valley Mirror. The decision can be found here and a profile of Crews I wrote can be found here.

Crews had filed a suit to compel the Willows Unified School District to turn over a year's worth of emails from the then superintendent, Steve Olmos. The district turned over nearly 60,000 emails, but withheld about 3,000 emails.

The justices concluded that while Crews was not the prevailing party in the litigation, his California Public Records Act petition was not frivolous, as Twede had ruled.

The California Newspaper Publishers Association and several publishers including McClatchy Newspapers, Inc., filed a brief in defense of Crews.

The appellate court found:

"Here, the record shows Crews's PRA request was based on his decision to engage in a journalistic investigation of whether Olmos or the District misused public property. The record does not indicate any intent to harass Olmos or the District.

"In sum, Crews's PRA petition was not utterly devoid of merit or taken for an improper motive. Consequently, his action was not frivolous and he should not have been ordered to pay attorney fees and costs."

Tim Crews, 69, editor of The Sacramento Valley Observer, sits at his desk at his newspaper office in downtown Willows in May. Bee photo by Randy Pench.

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Stuart Leavenworth on Twitter

Follow "SacBeeEditBoard" on Twitter