Media Coalition Wins Overturn of Blankenship Gag Order on Appeal

March 11, 2015

After opposing gag and sealing orders in the trial of former Massey coal CEO Don Blankenship, a news media coalition won access to the trial from a federal appeals court March 5, 2015.

Blankenship headed Massey Energy Co. in 2010 when an explosion in the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia killed 29 people. He faces trial on charges of conspiracy to violate federal mine safety and health standards — charges later amended to include cover-up.

After a federal district court judge entered a broad gag and sealing order in November 2014, the coalition of media groups led by Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in support of a smaller group of news media who had gone to court asking that it be overturned. The original petitioners were the Wall St. Journal, the Associated Press, the Charleston Gazette, National Public Radio, and the Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

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