Meghann Cuniff

Meghann Cuniff is a veteran reporter who's covered everything from the school board in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to the cross-country judicial saga of Southern California attorney Michael Avenatti. She works as a freelancer in California, specializing in legal affairs but also skilled at breaking news, crime and government coverage as well as long-form watchdogging and narratives.

An eviction crisis is coming, housing lawyers warn

Nearly six months into a pandemic that’s upended American society, a San Diego property owner cut a deal with a tenant: Take $10,000 and get out. A 60-day eviction notice expired while the courts were closed, and the city’s new emergency restrictions gave the tenant significant leverage: His landlord couldn’t secure a court summons until Sept. 30 at the earliest, and in the meantime, the renter wasn’t legally required to pay him anything. The landlord’s lawyer, Rachael Callahan, told him the ke

In shutdown, national parks transform into Wild West — heavily populated and barely supervised

“Once those port-a-potties fill up, there’s no amount of cleaning that will save them,” said Sabra Purdy, who along with her husband, Seth, owns the rock-climbing guide service Cliffhanger Guides in the town of Joshua Tree. “At that point, I think I’m going to have to tap out.” The partial government shutdown, triggered by a dispute between Pr esident Trump and Congress over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, is now well into its second week, with no resolution in sight. Democrats, who take

Former Buchalter lawyer would like an apology

A former Buchalter APC shareholder at the center of a $200 million fraud and negligent hiring lawsuit said he believes he did nothing wrong and the plaintiff family owes him an apology, according to video depositions played for jurors on Wednesday. J. Wayne Allen acknowledged lending himself money from the family’s business that he didn’t repay, but he said the loans were part of a larger financial plan that worked as intended. “Sure, I wish those were paid, but by the same token, events occurred that inhibited my ability to pay those back. I wish those hadn’t happened either, right?” Allen said. “I did what I felt was the right thing to do for my client along the way.”

Rainmaker ties shielded lawyer, Buchalter CFO testifies

A former Buchalter APC shareholder at the center of a fraud and negligent hiring trial was so close to a key attorney in the firm’s Orange County office that its top executive disregarded concerns about suspicious billing practices, a firm executive testified Monday. Orange County Superior Court jurors considering the multimillion dollar claims against the firm saw emails between former Buchalter CEO Rick Cohen, a current shareholder, and Chief Financial Officer Pamela K. Webster, who testified that then-shareholder J. Wayne Allen’s relationship with shareholder Martin P. “Marty” Florman influenced Cohen’s response.

Vacations, groceries, hotels: Supervisor Todd Spitzer’s spending from obscure fund raises questions

When Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer and his wife traveled to Maui seven years ago, political donors paid for the nearly $9,000 trip through a fundraising account rarely used in California politics. It was the first of several trips covered by those campaign donations, and it began years of unprecedented spending from a war chest that’s paid for $340,000 in travel, groceries, restaurant meals, hotels, office and retail store purchases, a security system and donations to politicians, cause

Boat ban could jeopardize Irvine Lake’s fishing, finances

Neither man knew how to swim and neither wore a life jacket. So when their overloaded boat began to sink on Irvine Lake four summers ago, they died in one of Orange County’s most tragically common ways: drowning. But the June 2012 deaths of Juan Flores and Thomas Rivera were far from ordinary. Their deaths prompted a court battle that ended this year with a $1.5 million settlement brokered by lawyers for the men’s families and lawyers for the Orange County water district that controls one of th

Supervisors seek less oversight of $60-per-hour assistant jobs

A move by newly elected Orange County officials to gain lucrative, taxpayer-funded government jobs for their offices has prompted county leaders to examine a longstanding hiring process that some fear allows political cronies undeserved access to high-paying positions. They’re called executive assistants, and they can be paid upward of $60 an hour. And now, despite an attempt by some county leaders to better monitor who can be hired, even fewer restrictions apply: the Board of Supervisors recen

County officials battle over audit control

The tipster who called Orange County’s fraud hotline didn’t know the name of the man who paid for lunch with a high-ranking county official, but she recognized him as a consultant who did business with county officials. “I am aware of the law about not taking anything more than a cup of coffee, and this was certainly more than that,” said the woman who didn’t leave her name on the recorded message. “Shouldn’t our county executives lead with actions as our role models?” But it turned out it was

Capistrano killings: Who is Ashton Sachs, teen charged with killing parents?

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – Ashton Sachs grew up in luxury homes, impressed his teachers and spent time on activities typical of an Orange County teenager: playing video games, taking photos of beach sunsets and holding a part-time job, his at Laguna Beach’s Pageant of the Masters. But the 19-year-old, charged this month with murder in the deaths of his parents – an attack that left his 8-year-old brother paralyzed – had another life much different from his friends. He bounced from town to town durin

San Juan Capistrano’s devolving discourse comes amid tumultuous times in local politics

The mayor has quoted Abraham Lincoln during municipal discussions. The attorney suing the city on behalf of an activist newspaper invoked a centuries-old exchange between Thomas Jefferson and John Jay. But the rhetoric that engulfs municipal politics in San Juan Capistrano has often taken a more extreme tone recently. • Last month, City Councilman Roy Byrnes compared three of his council colleagues to Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan. He made a similar statement in April 2010

Family grapples with shooting death

James Edward Rogers spent Monday driving around the Spokane area, calling his family. Depressed and distraught, the 45-year-old father of seven said it was over – that he had his father’s shotgun and planned to use it on himself. His family frantically searched for him, eventually learning of a police standoff on the lower South Hill with a man in a van. It had to be him, said Rogers’ father, Alonzo Rogers, who owns the van his son took from their Deer Park home Monday. Family rushed to the a

Use-of-force case leaves questions

Brian Greear remembers the sirens that prompted him to stop his car. But the 27-year-old Spokane man says he can’t remember what happened before he awoke face down in a South Hill street with a police officer’s knee in his back. “I just heard ‘Stop resisting! Stop resisting,’ ” he said. Greear’s arrest last July on suspicion of reckless driving, resisting arrest and driving with a suspended license has led to a disagreement between the Spokane Police Department and police Ombudsman Tim Burns,

Militias in the Inland Northwest: A passion rising

Groups once seen as fringe political outcasts are banding together, powered by what experts describe as an unprecedented fear of the federal government and disgust with the political climate. It’s happening across the country, and in the Inland Northwest it’s drawing big crowds of diverse attendees. More than 1,000 people, including local sheriffs, state representatives, lawyers, families and blue-collar workers, gathered in Post Falls last month to hear a former Arizona sheriff blast the fede

Drug web snagged many

Snow covered the ground and the wind howled furiously as a young Canadian man approached the Colville National Forest, piloting a helicopter packed with marijuana. Federal agents say Samuel Jackson Lindsay-Brown was to trade the 426 pounds of pot for 182 pounds of cocaine that two men traveling from Utah were supposed to be delivering. The trade never happened. Instead, the federal agents were waiting. Lindsay-Brown, 24, was arrested as he stepped off the helicopter that stormy Feb. 23 evenin

Survivors struggle forward (DUI deaths)

Every night, thousands of drivers hit the roads with too much alcohol in their systems. Sometimes they get away with it; other times the result is a tragedy. Pat Frisbie has been on both sides of that story. Like so many others, the North Idaho native drank as a way to unwind, socialize and have fun. And, sometimes, he and his wife drove when they knew they probably shouldn’t have. But it’s been weeks since either finished a brew. Their 10-year-old son, Sawyer, is dead, and alcohol is to blame