Associated Press Published

Gag Order Appealed in U.S. Circuit Court


News outlets are appealing a judge’s ruling over a gag order in ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s criminal case.

Blankenship was CEO when the Upper Big Branch Mine in southern West Virginia exploded, killing 29 men in 2010.

The Associated Press,NPR and other outlets appealed the ruling Friday in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Among those outlets are National Public Radio and Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting. It asks the court to make court documents public.

In January, U.S. District Judge Irene Berger ruled that much of her gag order was necessary to keep prospective jurors unbiased. Berger made opinions and orders public, but kept most documents sealed. She continued restricting attorneys or relatives of victims from discussing the case with reporters or releasing court documents.

Blankenship is charged with conspiring to violate safety and health standards at Upper Big Branch.