OHIO COURT OVERRULES PRESS RESTRICTIONS ON JUVENILE HEARING
CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio appeals court has ruled a juvenile court judge in contempt for barring Cincinnati Enquirer reporters from covering the cases of six teens charged with beating a man.
The Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals on Tuesday gave Hamilton County Juvenile Judge Tracie Hunter until Thursday afternoon to reverse her earlier order against allowing Enquirer coverage of proceedings. Hunter said Wednesday she will appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Hunter told The Associated Press by telephone that she couldn’t comment on pending cases, but sent a statement that contended she was following court rules and denied disobeying the higher court’s order.
“Judicial officers are held to the highest standards, and in following the rules of the court and the existing laws of the land, while balancing the policies governing the treatment of children, I believe that I have followed the law and upheld my judicial obligations to the public,” she said in her statement.
The Enquirer reports that it considered Hunter’s earlier order against publishing the juveniles’ names, which appeared in police reports, a violation of First Amendment press freedom rights. Editor Carolyn Washburn said The Enquirer is pleased that the judge has been required to comply with the law.
The juveniles were charged last summer with badly beating a man police said they targeted because they were bored. The 46-year-old man, Pat Mahaney, died recently, and prosecutors are waiting for autopsy results on what caused his death before considering whether to seek additional charges against the teens.
Three of the youths have pleaded guilty to felonious assault.
The Enquirer asked the state appeals court to order Hunter to allow its reporters inside her courtroom, and the court said March 29 that Hunter “shall” permit them. The Enquirer said she continued to refuse.
“Her status as a judicial officer does not exempt her from compliance with the court’s order,” Tuesday’s ruling stated.