By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Riggs is obviously excited to be back in the news game. "Some of the biggest stories of the past decade are going on right now," Riggs says. "It was hard to be sitting on the sidelines and not reporting on it. And call me old-fashioned, but I've always believed that, in this job, you can shed light on subjects that need light and help make improvements or help people in need."
Riggs, who follows many other Channel 8 expatriates (including the recently hired weather predictor Kristine Kahanek) to the former ratings cellar dweller, is understandably fired up about the big-time lineup Channel 11 is putting together. (Station managers suggest some out-of-town talent will be arriving in the coming months.) But he's also jazzed about a recent court victory in his ongoing malpractice lawsuit against Belo's lawyers.
Belo and the law firm Jenkens & Gilchrist had argued to the state court of appeals that Riggs' suit shouldn't go to a jury but instead be settled by an arbitrator. Their reasoning was alluded to earlier: They said that Riggs couldn't sue for malpractice since Belo, and not Riggs as Belo's employee, was their client. In other words, they argued that they regularly have meetings and dole out advice to people who aren't technically clients. In a unanimous decision, the court of appeals rejected this argument and said the suit should continue moving toward a jury trial.
"The lead judge seemed to be offended by their argument," a buoyed Riggs says. "As was I. And I think this is a great victory for reporters and freedom of the press."
Not that Riggs pretends he doesn't get personal satisfaction from this. To call the man "resentful" would, in my opinion, be insufficient. "I mean, I was the lone voice saying their opinion [that Channel 8 could air the Peavy phone tapes] was incorrect. And I was right. And if they had just listened to me, we wouldn't have these problems today."