RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal appeals court panel says a trial judge went too far with a gag order that forbid lawyers or virtually anyone with knowledge of conditions at North Carolina hog operations from sharing information with reporters or on social media.
The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, ruled Monday that judges overseeing lawsuits in the Carolinas, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia can issue gag orders only as a last resort. The ruling was sought by farm and journalism groups, including The Associated Press.
Pork giant Smithfield Foods challenged a North Carolina federal judge barring involved parties and “all potential witnesses” from discussing dozens of lawsuits claiming industrial-scale hog farms create unreasonable nuisances.
Juries in the first three trials hit Smithfield with verdicts totaling nearly $550 million.
Most Read Nation & World Stories
- Where you're most likely to catch COVID: New study highlights high-risk locations
- Reporter is hit by car on air, striking a nerve with TV journalists
- Sports on TV & radio: Local listings for Seattle games and events
- You had breakthrough COVID. Can you start living like it’s 2019?
- McConnell: Black people vote at similar rates to 'Americans'