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Media reports gag order issued on pre-trial reporting

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  1. Prior Restraint
The McDuffie (Ga.) Mirror reported that a Georgia trial judge issued an order prohibiting reporters and other attendees of a…

The McDuffie (Ga.) Mirror reported that a Georgia trial judge issued an order prohibiting reporters and other attendees of a criminal court proceeding from publicly disclosing the testimony given at the hearing.

Billy Hobbs, a reporter for the paper, which is based in Thomson, Ga., attended a pre-trial hearing Sept. 13 at the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center for the murder trial of Helen Irene Ansley. Shortly before the hearing concluded, the chief assistant district attorney of the Toombs Judicial Circuit, Durwood Davis, requested that the court issue an order prohibiting the public release of information about the testimony provided at the hearing, Hobbs said.

The defendant’s attorney, Public Defender Harold Wallace, concurred with the prosecution’s request, and Superior Court Chief Judge Roger W. Dunaway granted the order from the bench, the Mirror reported.

No record of the judge's order is available from the court clerk’s office. The judge's oral order prohibits reporting of the testimony of the hearing and the names of the witnesses who testified, Hobbs said.

Neither Wallace nor Davis was available for comment. Jury selection in the trial began Monday.