Reader testimonials

John Chiv’s blog at is of extraordinary value to the successful operation of the legal system in Humboldt County, California in three significant ways: he publishes facts that are not published elsewhere; he makes the community heard; and he provides live coverage.
In the first ever case of the placement of a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) in Humboldt County in August, 2018, John Chiv was the only source of information. As with many legal cases, citizen access to information is challenging and confusing. In the case of SVP Cooley, as in every other legal case in Humoldt Couty, John Chiv was present at all the court events (, took photos of the original charges and posted the case file when no no other outlet did,( and immediately responded to inquiries.  His coverage is focused, factual and authoritative.
In addition, community voices armed with informative facts can be heard (
Finally, at the hearing set for August 23, 2018 at 8:30am for Judge Feeney to consider whether a proposed placement was appropriate for Cooley, John Chiv was present and published three posts including one at the time of the hearing ( when the overflow of community presence inspired the judge to relocate the hearing from courtroom #4 to the Board of Supervisors’ Chamber.  
Single source of facts, community input and live coverage: these three criteria set John Chiv apart from other court media in Humboldt County and make his blog uniquely valuable.

--Nicole Riggs--

John Chiv doesn't sugar coat the facts, he just reports them. This has made him unpopular, but a true journalist isn't running a popularity contest."

Today, the comment posted below was made on one of my blog posts by "Majestic Mountain Mother." "Small town political bullshit. The truth is the truth. There is a lot of A FEW GOOD MEN crap in this town. Jessep: You want answers? Kaffee: I want the truth! Jessep: You can't handle the truth! Some people think the truth is only good if it shines the bright light on the right people. Well people, the truth can hurt and just because you don't like it doesnt make it not true. John Chiv doesn't sugar coat the facts, he just reports them. This has made him unpopular, but a true journalist isn't running a popularity contest. Sure there are things we might personally do different but John says it like it is and takes the crap that is slung at him. If you think you can do better, you go sit in the court rooms, listen to the gore and all the case facts, and report the truth without the sugar coating and political tiptoeing around the tough stuff. I bet you wouldn't have the guts to do it. John doesn't worry about who might be mad, he just does his job! People need to stop "shooting the messenger", as they say. If you have concerns or questions, haul yourself down to the Court House and listen for yourself. Until then, kiss off. Of note, I've never even met John. I just find his reporting to be honest, and given the people he pisses off, I'm confident it's true. " 

Monster has left a new comment on your post " Local attorney Andrew Stunich enters guilty plea t...": 

An all-time Humboldt Headscratcher.

Schmucky Stunich gets outed for having no permit for concealed carry but has possession of a gun that he allegedly forgot about when he brought it to the courthouse. He didn't obtain a concealed permit when he was supposedly buying a gun from down South?

The DA's office bends over backwards to make sure Stunich pleads out so he can keep his law license. Stunich makes an all-time mistake by publicly proclaiming innocence and feigning some sort of public fight -- for honor? to clear his name? And, in the end, Stunich pleads out when he could have done this months ago without a permanent internet paper trail that every future and potential client can access on Google.

You've done your job, John, when others in the press have been radio silent on Stunich and his legal idiocy. 

Indie blogger John Chiv provides a vital window into the courtroom

As paper newspapers continue to consolidate and transition to Internet-only formats, content continues to change as well. There is less direct observation of events by reporters and more presentation of press releases from official sources. Locally, that means that even the county’s almost daily newspaper doesn’t base a reporter at the courthouse.

 In fact, the much smaller Union covers cases of interest to the north county more effectively. But we are all fortunate to have the benefit of an experienced reporter who spends most of his time moving between the courts. 

John Chiv writes a blog – Words Worth –that keeps readers updated on what is happening in our local courts.

 Chiv has been a reporter and also does marketing and promotion for businesses. 

His acute interest in the courts apparently began with the case of Gary Lee Bullock, who is accused of the murder of Father Eric Freed on New Year’s Day, 2014. Chiv was an active parishioner and close friend of Freed; he saw him late the night of the murder and was waiting at the church the next morning to serve Mass.Recently, he has been forthcoming with some of the details of his experience of the events. Bullock’s trial began last week with physical and photographic evidence being submitted and potential jurors being screened. 

Despite his personal connection, Chiv has been doing a remarkably objective job describing the progress of the case. He has several times mentioned that he was the only spectator in court. Surely, he feels in some degree that he is standing for his friend and priest. Doing so, and sharing the results with others, may be a little help in resolving his own trauma.

In the more than two years since the death, there have been relatively few court proceedings to report. Chiv has roamed the corridors of the courthouse, checking in on all kinds of other cases. 

He typically updates his blog several times each weekday. He appears to be respected by the attorneys. He sometimes asks for comments and shares the responses he receives. In short, he is an unpaid courthouse reporter, an insider with access to both public moments and the inevitable gossip which makes the place work. 

The public gets the benefit of his hours of volunteer time representing us in the practice of what we hope is justice. We would know a lot less about what is going on in the courts without his hard work. He shines light on what might otherwise be overlooked. Few of us have the time or interest to show up at a court proceeding unless we are directly involved.

Despite efforts to improve the experience of jurors or prospective jurors, it can still be disruptive. In the Freed case, the evidence will be deeply disturbing. Many jurors can’t afford to miss work for a long trial; most employers don’t pay for jury duty, or pay only a few days. Jurors who have vacations planned are expected to give them up unless they have pre-paid. And the new court administrator says a lot of people just don’t show up at all for jury service. 

Retired people tend to be over-represented on juries because they don’t have to worry about missing work. In this case, religious beliefs may figure into jury selection, and older people are more likely to be religiously observant. There are plenty of reasons for prospective jurors to hope they won’t be selected for this trial. There aren’t a lot of people who genuinely want to supplant law enforcement and the justice system and do the work themselves. But that doesn’t prevent them from criticizing the way it is done. 

Opinions that are based on fact are more useful than those formed on rickety frames of half-truth and rumor. Local news outlets are swamped with reports of criminal activity and residents are anxious to hear that suspects are in custody. But all too often, they are swiftly released, and in some cases, rapidly arrested again on the same or similar charges. People want to feel that the system works, but it is all too obvious that it often doesn’t. 

The Bullock case generates little sympathy for the defendant, who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Freed was the epitome of an innocent victim, devoted to service. Many will believe Bullock was completely sane and is only using the insanity plea in an effort to avoid the consequences of his actions. Others think he must have been crazy in order to even contemplate such a hideous crime. I’m not sure it matters, as long as he is unable to hurt anyone in the future. Whether that’s in prison or a mental hospital is not crucial; either would provide punishment, but the main thing is to protect others.

To read John Chiv’s posts, visit

Elizabeth Alves thanks Chiv for his reports, and hopes the resolution of the Bullock case brings him some measure of peace. 

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