Judicial About-Face in Restraint-of-Media Story

     (CN) – The Fulton County Superior Court judge presiding over the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial reversed himself on Monday, lifting an injunction he placed on the media last week.
     On Friday, Nov. 7, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order, seeking to enjoin WAGA-TV in Atlanta from airing a story that Howard feared would “taint the unsequestered jury.”
     The story concerned claims by Reginald Dukes, a private investigator who previously testified at the trial, that he received an anonymous threats about his testimony.
     “The public interest in the integrity of this trial, and ensuring that the jurors are not exposed to this news story outweighs any interest in airing this story prior to a show cause hearing,” Howard wrote in his motion.
     Judge Jerry Baxter signed the temporary restraining order, and then placed a call to WAGA-TV, also known as Fox 5, to inform the station’s attorney that the story needed to be held until Monday, when a hearing could be held on the matter.
     Baxter lifted the order on Monday before media lawyers got the chance for argument saying that he realized the order he signed on Friday was in error.
     According to the Associated Press, Judge Baxter reminded the jury not to listen to outside discussion of the story, including from the media or other individuals.
     Fulton County’s District Attorney continues the prosecution of Atlanta Public Schools’ alleged involvement in a widespread and “cleverly disguised” conspiracy through which teachers and administrators fixed grades to protect their jobs.

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