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About Our Managing Writer

Ronald J. Watkins has had a long and noteworthy career. The managing writer began as a probation officer and presentencing investigator in the Superior Court. In only one capital case did he recommend execution. This led to his second book, Evil Intentions, a well-received, gripping account of murder. He is a former chief administrative law judge and served as the state of Arizona's chief insurance fraud investigator. He holds a BA in history and an MS in justice studies. He has lived in Europe, traveled in Mexico, Central America and Southeast Asia and now makes his home in Phoenix. His struggle to protect his sources as he wrote Birthright, the saga of the Shoen family which founded and owned U-Haul International and of the then unsolved murder of Eva Shoen, received national media attention including an editorial in the Los Angeles Times, an appearance on NBC's PrimeTime! and was the subject of an episode of Under Scrutiny with Jane Wallace. Radio, television and newspapers across the country depicted and praised his steadfast refusal to name names.

In 1993 the United States Court of Appeals [Ninth Circuit] in Shoen v. Shoen, 5 Frd 1289 [9th Cir. 1993] issued a landmark decision on his behalf when the court held for the first time in United State's history that writers of non-fiction books have the same rights under the U.S. Constitution as newspaper reporters and can protect both confidential and non-confidential sources. When he refused to comply with the demands of a second subpoena in 1994 he was again found in contempt of court by a another Federal judge for refusing to disclose sources and this time was ordered imprisoned until he complied. A Federal arrest warrant was issued and U.S. Marshals searched his home looking for him. Twenty minutes prior to surrendering, and in a highly unusual ruling, the Ninth Circuit reversed itself and granted a stay. In Shoen v. Shoen, 48 F. 3d 412 [9th Cir.1995] the court subsequently ruled in the author's favor, adopting the four point balancing test used in most other Circuits.

These two rulings have been used many times since to spare writers from jail when extending confidentiality to sources and have entered the lexicon of the handful of court cases which safeguard the First Amendment. For his conduct the author was nominated for the 1993 PEN American Newman's Own First Amendment Award.

PrimeTime! with Tom Brokow and Katie Couric
Under Scrutiny with Jane Wallace
Geraldo with Geraldo Rivera
American Forum [national radio]

In addition, the author has addressed many groups on his work and in particular on the nature of the First Amendment and the measures necessary in our society to protect it.

He conducts creative writing seminars and ghostwrites occasional projects. He is a member of the The Authors Guild and The Writers League of America, The Hakluyt Society and the Society for the History of Discoveries. In 2004, he was nominated for The Mountbatten Maritime Prize in the United Kingdom. His work has been published in Brazil and the Czech Republic.

Ronald J. Watkins
Author and Managing Writer
© Ron Watkins 2002
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