An open letter to attorney Chris Grenz, Kansas City, from journalist Claire M. O’Brien

Dear Mr. Grenz,

I was shocked to discover the Kansas Law Review publication of your school paper on Dodge City’s 2010 First Amendment case. I write to document the fact that you never provided me with a copy of that paper, as promised. Because of the emphasis with which you described it as a “class project”, I have assumed that the closest it got to the public eye was, perhaps, your law school’s library. Submitting it without my knowledge to the KLR after denying me any opportunity to read the original paper is an extreme discourtesy, and academically unethical.

In your case, it’s also legally unethical. In fact, given the larger context, it’s defamatory because of the deliberate omission of facts that established my truthfulness. Whomever acted with even the tacit understanding that this paper would eventually serve as an authoritative reference obscuring Lucy Dalglish’s criminal professional misconduct has met the standards for both conspiracy to defame and defamation.

As you are well aware, Dalglish confirmed on April 21, 2010, in the presence of an RCFP board member that attorney Bill Hurst had indeed admitted to attempting to force my testimony with threats. Rather than acknowledge that he had clarified the precarious position I was in just 36 hours before my court date, Dalglish chewed me out for misrepresenting the facts. Now that you are an attorney yourself, I hope that you are repulsed by this abuse of a client’s ignorance and trust. Dalglish could not have acted in her capacity as an attorney more forcefully. She concluded that conversation by deliberately giving me bad legal advice, directing me back to Hurst, whom she knew to be acting against my interests. I chose not to face criminal charges accompanied by counsel whose goal was identical to that of the prosecution’s.

Within a few hours, Dalglish compounded her offenses with a blatant fabrication to the Associated Press, denying the truthful statements I had earlier that day made to the same reporter, describing Hurst’s actions. I literally staggered under the weight of journalism’s most lethal blow – and I remember telling you that my life essentially ended at that moment. The press turned away from me, leaving me with no support. Nevertheless I won the statement from Dalglish, referenced above, with sheer determination after pursuing the matter by myself for three solid months. Since no one believed me, I prevailed only because I proved that I was telling the truth

As you are also aware, Daglish’s statement to that effect was posted on the RCFP website, the SPJ website and on two well-regarded blogs, Latina Lista and The Peroria Pundit. The former has a national readership and the latter a healthy regional following. Both editors questioned the obscure placement of Lucy’s brief memo, and Latina Lista openly challenged it as a failure of her word. Nevertheless, it was still sufficient by any newspaper’s standards. Although the mainstream press obeyed directives to ignore it, many reporters saw it – and of course it was one of the first pieces of documentation to which I directed your attention.

This memo, along with other documentation supporting my veracity and character has been disappearing from the Web at a rate that proves an intentional destruction of evidence. Meanwhile, papers such as yours are appearing. Within a few years, researchers will find little but a narrative based on lies.

Congratulations. You have taken a place in history by helping to rewrite it. In doing so, you have betrayed the Constitution, as well as the people of America by replacing with lies their right to the truth. You have helped to destroy a member of a free press, preventing her from carrying out her Constitutionally-protected mandate to inform the people. And you have done all of the above in the service of power – a power that the reporter stood to face alone, unaware that she was about to be ripped to shreds.

I want you to know that I have suffered every day since. Although I had just set a record by winning four state press awards at once, I now live in destitution, blackballed from the profession I served with honor and love, while those who lied in a ruthless abuse of power were rewarded.

I want to know what you are going to do to help repair the damage you have caused. Later on, if you are lucky, you will eventually come to deeply regret the morally bankrupt manner in which you chose to begin your career.

Right now, you think yourself fortunate to have such powerful connections. Think of me when they turn out to be the millstones that pull you down as they fall. Perhaps that’s when you’ll also remember what it means to be an honorable journalist, an ethical attorney, and a decent human being.

Sincerely,

Claire M. O’Brien

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7 thoughts on “An open letter to attorney Chris Grenz, Kansas City, from journalist Claire M. O’Brien

  1. Having read the background articles on Latina Lista from the Spring of 2010, you are to be commended for being an honorable and ethical journalist, as well as a decent human being. Will any pertinent news media pick up your open letter and print it? How about Leonard Pitts Jr. at the Miami Herald?

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    1. I thank You, Claire! I am absolutely blown away by your honesty, strength, persistence and courage in your continuing fight for justice. After learning what you have been through it is heart-breaking even to imagine how you might feel. …
      Please know you have my friendship and my heartfelt support, and I am sure there are many others too. With each day I am more thrilled to realise the exponentially growing number of those fighting for a world where the truth and those with integrity will prevail.

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