Associated Press Published

Court in Va. Hears Media's Gag Order Appeal in Blankenship Case


A lawyer for five media organizations has urged a federal appeals court to toss out a gag order in former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s criminal case.

Blankenship was CEO when the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia exploded in 2010, killing 29 men. He’s charged with conspiring to violate safety and health standards.

The Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, NPR, The Associated Press and other news outlets are appealing U.S. District Judge Irene Berger’s gag order in the case. 

At a hearing Monday in Richmond, an attorney for the media organizations told a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the order violates the First Amendment by barring virtually anyone with knowledge about the case from discussing it publicly. That includes victims’ relatives.