‘Toledo Blade’ Wins Reversal of Trial Gag Order — For Now

By: E&P Staff

Siding with The Blade of Toledo, the Ohio Supreme Court temporarily lifted a gag order a county judge imposed on journalists attending a murder trial scheduled to begin Monday.

Common Pleas Court Judge Keith P. Muehlfeld will be unable to enforce the prior restraint until the high court has time to review the case, Blade staff writers Jim Provance and Jennifer Feehan reported Friday.

The gage order was issued for the trial of a woman charged with involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in the drug overdose of her 13-month daughter in 2007. A 50-year-old man is also charged in the death. His separate trial is expected to get underway about a week after the start of the woman’s trial.

Attorneys for the male defendant asked for the gag order, arguing that publicity from the first trial could prejudice the jury pool for his trial.

Muehlfeld granted the gag order in December and reaffirmed it last week when lawyers for the Blade asked him to reconsider.

The Ohio Supreme Court voted 6-1 to temporarily lift the gag order, with the dissenting judge saying she would have ruled in favor of the Blade immediately.

“The Blade is pleased that the Supreme Court promptly suspended the trial court’s prior restraint, so that The Blade and all other media can report freely on the trial and the public can learn about it,” the newspaper’s attorney, Fritz Byers told the Blade. “And The Blade looks forward to briefing the matter fully for the Supreme Court to demonstrate further the unconstitutionality of the order.”

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