Journalists to fight call to testify in Colonies corruption case

Eight journalists who covered the Colonies corruption case in San Bernardino County will fight prosecution subpoenas to testify in the upcoming trial, claiming protection by a state shield law that preserves the integrity of newsgathering.

A hearing to quash the subpoenas or at least limit what the reporters can be asked on the witness stand is scheduled before San Bernardino County Judge Michael A. Smith on Jan. 4, the same day the trial is set to begin.

The subpoenas are “an extraordinary move that stands to weaken press freedoms by converting the resources of the press into an arm of the state government — thereby creating a chilling effect on future newsgathering,” the motion states.

The attorney representing the reporters said the prosecution has said it wants to “elicit only published information from the journalists,” but has declined to be specific about what that information is.

Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum stands accused of bribing four former top county officials more than a decade ago to settle a nearly five-year-old lawsuit he filed against the county in 2002.

Burum and three other defendants — former county Supervisor Paul Biane, former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, and Mark Kirk, who was chief of staff for former county Supervisor Gary Ovitt — admit no wrongdoing and maintain their innocence.

Burum is accused of paying a total of $400,000 in bribes to former Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Postmus and the other three defendants to…

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