"The media coalition asked U.S. District Judge Irene Berger to reconsider her order, which also prohibits parties in the case, potential trial witnesses and potentially families of the victims of the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster from talking to the media," Ward writes. Sean McGinley, a Charleston attorney representing the media groups, filed a motion that "argued that federal courts must give the media outlets an opportunity to be heard before they restrict access to court records or prohibit parties from discussing cases with reporters."
The gag order "interferes with the news media’s ability to gather information needed to report on the case, violating the media’s constitutionally protected rights under the First Amendment, McGinley said in the motion," Ward writes.
The motion said: “A reporter’s First Amendment right to publish is meaningless if it is prevented from gathering news in the first instance. In this case, the court’s gag and sealing order prevents the news media intervenors and other members of the press and public from obtaining any meaningful information regarding this newsworthy case from court records and from those most knowledgeable about it, the participants and those affected by the underlying events."
"The public interest in access is especially strong in the case at bar because such access promotes trustworthiness in the judicial process, better understanding of the judicial system and ultimately, fairness," the motion said. (Read more)