Podcast creator fights subpoena for testimony, records

August 25, 2021

Chris Lambert

By KAREN VELIE

Paul Flores’ defense attorney has subpoenaed a freelance journalist whose podcasts have covered the Kristin Smart case since September of 2019. Robert Sanger also tried to keep Chris Lambert, who produces the popular podcast “Your Own Backyard,” from covering Flores’ preliminary hearing.

Sanger is seeking records of Chris Lambert’s correspondence with law enforcement, all records related to the court case, and all records related to his investigation into the disappearance of Smart and the Flores family. Sanger has said that Lambert had interviewed several witnesses before they spoke to law enforcement.

Lambert has devoted 10 podcast episodes to the Kristin Smart murder. He is fighting the subpoena. Lambert’s attorney Diana Palacios with the San Fransisco offices of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, filed an objection on Aug. 23.

California has a shield law to protect journalists from providing unpublished notes and materials from their reporting.

Under the shield law, Article I, section 2(b) of the California Constitution and Evidence Code section 1070, California courts are required to conduct a balancing test, weighing the needs of a criminal defendant for the journalists notes and material and then determining if the information can be obtained from sources other than the journalist.

In the subpoena served on Lambert on Aug. 10 at the courthouse, Sanger also asked that Lambert be available to testify on Aug. 30.

Sanger then sought to bar Lambert from covering the preliminary hearing.

Sanger argued that Lambert could be excluded from the hearing because he could be called as a witness. In most cases, witnesses cannot be present during other witnesses’ testimony to prevent bias. Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen said there are exceptions, before saying he was not going to exclude a member of the media from the hearing.

Palacios argues that Sanger has not demonstrated and cannot demonstrate that Lambert’s testimony or documents are material to the case.

Court is set to resume Wednesday, when the judge will listen to several motions including a motion to disqualify the district attorney for wearing a purple tie in alleged support of Smart, whose favorite color was purple. It is unclear when the judge will rule on Lambert’s objection.

Flores is accused of murdering Smart, a student at Cal Poly, in 1996 following a party they both attended in San Luis Obispo. Flores’ father Ruben Flores is charged as an accessory after the fact. He is suspected of helping his son dispose of Smart’s body.


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Gordo

“ Sanger is seeking records of Chris Lambert’s correspondence with law enforcement, all records related to the court case, and all records related to his investigation into the disappearance of Smart and the Flores family. ”


This statement indicates that Mr. Sanger thinks Lambert’s pod cast is a law enforcement creation and thus Lambert is their agent. I don’t know if that is what is occurring here, but it is not as unusual as it sounds. Law enforcement often use media sources to put out information as a stimulation technique to see how the suspect(s) react.


Production of all of Lambert’s files, notes, audio recordings will tell the defense how he developed his information and if the pod cast was contrived as an investigative tool by law enforcement.


Niles Q

The Sheriff himself said the podcast led them to new witnesses and new evidence. Some believe the podcast is what broke the case open, so why isn’t his testimony relevant? I can’t imagine.

If one second of those podcasts is used by the prosecution in court, the defense should have access to every second of video he shot. It would only be fair.

I hope the D.A. can make this stick, he won’t get another bite at the apple. And so far, from the minimal reporting that’s been done, the case doesn’t look very strong to me.


IronHub

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP? That’s the law firm that muffed an easy SLAPP motion allowing the perjury-infused libel lawsuit against CalCoastNews to proceed. Good luck, Mr. Lambert.


mazin

“The popular podcast ‘Your Own Backyard’ “… hmmm … My family all severely limit ghoulish media. The limited leisure time we have is better spent outdoors on swings; positive family media; helping society; maybe reading Mark, Matthew, Luke; working on cars; etc.

There is enough of the awful around us.

When we go to a motel and see cable TV, we are stunned at the ugly entertainment, political anger, and general brain trash. It is addicting.

No need to make ugly an entertainment, drawing it to you.

Live a purposeful healthy life, think healthy, celebrate the gifts we have been given.


tidepool

you can not solve a heinous crime sitting in your living room reading Matthew, Mark and Luke Bible stories. God Bless Chris Lambert for creating a pod cast that has blown the Kristen Smart case open to the point the police were able to make 2 arrests. Do you actually think after all of these years Kristen’s family has been living a purposeful healthy life able to think healthy or celebrate any gifts???? go back to your land of Unicorns and Rainbows. may you never know the devastation of having your child disappear under suspicious circumstances and never knowing exactly what happened year after year after year…


IronHub

Spoken like someone who would just as soon require you all to follow his/her rules. Mazin, just stay out of motels. And readers, note the biblical reference…


Michele

Mazin, people are going to disagree with you on this one. Chris Lambert isn’t in this for entertainment and ghoul thrill factor. If I were Kristin Smart’s parents I’d be thanking God every day for Mr. Lambert. Awful was already done, he’s just trying to help make it right.


DookieShoes62

I believe that Paul Flores is guilty as all get out. Most people don’t understand how this preliminary hearing works. If the attorneys for the Flores’s don’t provide these arguments, they will not be admissible if it goes to a real trial.


Most preliminary hearings last 30 minutes to 2 hours. This preliminary trial has lasted 4+ weeks and the “prosecution” has not produced any factual evidence other than, “We Believe”.


I looked under a 50 year old deck. I found evidence that during the 50 years of being there, something died.


I also found different color fibers that may have found their way under a deck of a family occupied home that might have accumulated over 50 years.


The evidence presented is so far circumstantial at best.


This is all heading towards a clown trial and a prosecutor trying to make a name for themselves.


Death Penalty is off of the menu for prosecutors to make a name for themselves in politics in California now. What do they have left? 25 year old mysteries.


mazin

Did not know the purpose of the podcast was to solve this case. Good work


Michele

It wasn’t. But take a listen in your spare time. He kept an interest going and dug deeper than law enforcement was. I honestly think he helped bring the case to court. I think it helped. But I also have a 25 year old daughter, the number of years they’ve been searching for justice. I may be biased : )


mazin

Media that continuously features stories of abuse, sadism, kidnappings, rape, torture, murder, is not healthy. It creates a fear of the other. In some, it feeds a craving. It stokes ugliness.

Getting educated about how to keep your and others safe is great, and identifying and pursuing criminals is wonderful.

But, the constant media feed creates a distorted, paranoid view of the world, and leaves us open to fear manipulators.