After a protracted legal battle, Karen Velie—former New Times writer and co-founder of the controversial CalCoastNews website—was found guilty of driving under the influence on March 25.
Velie was initially arrested on Aug. 13 of last year, and an Aug. 21 article published on CalCoastNews claimed the arrest appeared to be “directly connected” to the website’s reporting on San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill and his fiancée Dee Torres. Some comments from readers bashed the arresting officer for what they saw as malice, vindictiveness, and “bullshit arbitrary arrest.”
In an Aug. 22 appearance on Dave Congalton’s KVEC talk show, Velie said she believed she was arrested because of who she is.
After a five-day trial, a 12-member SLO County Superior Court jury unanimously found Velie guilty.
“We lost, and I’m disappointed,” Velie’s defense attorney, Jeffrey D. Stulberg, told New Times. “Sometimes, the jury system doesn’t work the way you’d like it to.”
During the trial, Stulberg argued that Velie was innocent, that her reporting was a factor in her arrest, and called multiple witnesses who testified she wasn’t impaired shortly before her arrest.
“In light of that testimony, I was hugely surprised at the outcome of the case,” Stulberg said.
Velie also agreed to sentencing for the DUI charge on March 25, which Stulberg said was the “absolute minimum sentence the court could grant under the law.”
Stulberg said Velie would be required to pay a $2,540 fine, serve three years of unsupervised bench probation, complete a three-month DUI class, and serve one day in the SLO County Sheriff’s “alternative work program.”