Dallas County, Tx., has asked a judge to block the Dallas Morning News from continuing to publish details of a study that found sweeping problems at the troubled county jail. The county maintains that the study is confidential. Further disclosure, the county said, would hurt its defense in a federal lawsuit filed last year by the family of a mentally ill inmate who nearly died at the county jail after water to his cell was cut off for almost two weeks.
A private firm hied by the county cited several health-care risks, including the lack of inmate screening for tuberculosis. The News published the findings of the 52-page report Feb. 23 and posted a copy of the study on its Web site. Russ Coleman, general counsel of Belo Corp., which owns the newspaper, said the News isn’t prevented from reporting on the document simply because the county considers it confidential. “The report contains critical information for area citizens,” he said. “The report was made under a consulting contract approved by the Commissioners Court and involves a public facility and public health.”