In re Murphy-Brown
The Reporters Committee and 11 media organizations filed an amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit in In re Murphy-Brown. The brief supports Murphy-Brown’s mandamus petition to vacate a gag order issued by the district court in 26 related nuisance lawsuits against hog farms run by Murphy-Brown. The district court stated that the gag order will stay in effect for the duration of these 26 cases–which are expected to last several years–and applies to hundreds of parties, counsel, court personnel, and even “potential” witnesses, who have not yet been identified or notified. The brief argues that this broad gag order will chill newsgathering about these cases, which are of significant public concern; that it is an unconstitutional prior restraint; and that it is particularly offensive to the First Amendment in the civil context where courts are less likely to uphold gag orders.