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Media gagged from reporting drug test results of murder suspect

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Media gagged from reporting drug test results of murder suspect09/25/95 ARIZONA--On September 7, Yuma County Superior Court Judge H. Stewart…

Media gagged from reporting drug test results of murder suspect

09/25/95

ARIZONA–On September 7, Yuma County Superior Court Judge H. Stewart Bradshaw lifted his order barring the media from reporting the results of a drug test given to a former undercover narcotics agent who is now charged with killing two of his fellow agents.

Jack Ray Hudson, a former Sheriff’s Deputy in Yuma county, has been charged in the July 4 shooting deaths of Lt. Dan Elkins and Sgt. Michael Crowe. Both Elkins and Crowe worked for the Arizona Department of Public Safety and served with Hudson on the Southwest Border Alliance, a multi-agency drug-enforcement task force.

The Yuma County Attorney, later joined by the defense attorney, brought a motion to withhold the results of the urinalysis test from the public. On August 30, the media was given the test results in partially redacted form. However, attached to the results was an order which prohibited the media from publishing or reporting on the information pending appeal of the ruling by attorneys in the matter. The gag on the press was originally set to last until September 8.

On September 7, the day before the restraining order was to expire on its own terms, Justice Frederick J. Martone of the Arizona State Supreme Court ordered that the portion of the trial court’s order prohibiting publication of the unredacted portions of the urinalysis report be withdrawn. The hearing with Justice Martone was granted only after two requests for expedited review were made to the Arizona State Court of Appeals in Phoenix by attorneys representing various media organizations.

The court’s protective order covered the report on the urinalysis results and two videotapes related to the shootings. The appeal of the order covering the videotapes was separated from that of the drug test results and is still pending before the Arizona State Court of Appeals in Phoenix. The trial court ruled the videos were too sensitive to be released because they showed a closed government facility. The first tape is from a surveillance camera which captured the shooting in time-lapse photography. The second tape is of the crime scene and was made by investigators. (KPNX-TV v. Bradshaw; Media Counsel: Daniel Barr, Anthony Marx & Sarah Porter, Phoenix)