TX Judge Scales Back Sweeping Gag Order In Capital Murder Trial


A Texas judge scaled back a sweeping gag order she had imposed on news coverage of a capital murder trial, leaving in place bans against reporters interviewing the families of victims or defendants and photographing jurors until after the trial, reports the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Before a hearing to let the Star-Telegram challenge the order, Judge Elizabeth Berry issued a revised list of courtroom restrictions that maintained bans on some interviews about the case with attorneys, district attorney officials, and witnesses until the end of the trial of Kwame Rockwell.

“We’re gratified the judge decided to revise the order she issued Friday, which we felt was clearly unconstitutional in the limits it placed upon us,” Star-Telegram Executive Editor Jim Witt said. “One of our jobs is to be the eyes and ears for the public, to tell them what is going on in their courtrooms. The original order was too restrictive for us to do that.” Among the judge’s concerns: a “defiance” of her order to use a pool camera by the broadcast media, a Star-Telegram article that included comments from the mother of the defendant, media presence in prohibited areas of the courtroom, and media efforts to contact people in the courtroom who appear to be family members of the victims and could be called as witnesses.

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