The Athens, Ga., Banner-Herald says it is contesting a judge's gag order that forbids the media from reporting on the jury selection process underway in the case of admitted Athens cop-killer Jamie Hood. The order by Superior Court Judge H. Patrick Haggard is unconstitutional in that it violates the right of a free press, said David Hudson, general counsel for the Georgia Press Association and attorney for the Banner-Herald. “The judge is motivated by legitimate reasons, but under the Constitution there are very strict standards that have to be met before a gag order can be imposed, and those standards have not been met in this instance,” Hudson said.
Those standards include the need to provide advance notice of an order while it is being considered so that anyone opposed can argue against it at a hearing, Hudson said. The gag order would also have to articulate a factual basis as to why a gag order was necessary in order to protect a defendant's right to a fair trial. District Attorney Ken Mauldin also challenged the gag order, saying that it “clearly …violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”