Ohio Supreme Court agrees judge in contempt
Written by DAN SEWELL, Associated Press   
Saturday, 21 December 2013 07:52

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court agreed Friday that a southwest Ohio juvenile court judge is in contempt for barring a newspaper's reporters from her courtroom.

The court upheld an appellate court's finding against Hamilton County Judge Tracie Hunter. The conflict had begun over The Cincinnati Enquirer's coverage of six teens charged in 2012 with badly beating a man in suburban North College Hill.

Hunter began banning Enquirer reporters because the newspaper used juveniles' names in coverage.

The Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals ruled to allow Enquirer reporters into the courtroom while both sides were making legal arguments on the issue, but Hunter said that The Enquirer's access would be conditional on not publishing the defendants' names. The newspaper called that an unconstitutional prior restraint of First Amendment press freedom rights and argued that the appellate court's ruling gave it access without conditions.

The appellate court agreed, finding Hunter in contempt in July. The judge appealed, saying she was following juvenile court rules and denying she was in contempt.

"Judge Hunter would have the court excuse her noncompliance on the grounds that she was unclear as to what was required," the Supreme Court ruling stated.

But the court said that it appeared that Hunter understood what the appellate court was ordering, "so her statement to the contrary is nothing more than a declaration of defiance."

Hunter didn't immediately return a call for comment Friday. She could face judicial penalties if she doesn't comply with the appellate court's ruling against barring reporters.

"Certainly, we feel vindicated in our position," said Jack Greiner, attorney for The Enquirer. "There was no basis to kick our reporter out, and we felt we needed to address that ... It was inappropriate."

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Contact the reporter at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell


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