Jones’ Judge Lets Gag Order Stand
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ A judge on Monday denied a media request to lift the gag order surrounding Paula Jones’ sexual harrassment lawsuit against President Clinton, rejecting arguments that leaks have made it ineffective.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright said the press had shown a ``callous disregard″ for the parties’ right to a fair trial. She turned down the media’s call for Clinton’s deposition to be made public on First Amendment grounds.
Her order covered a similar request by Judicial Watch Inc., a Washington-based conservative group.
Several news organizations, including The Associated Press, petitioned the judge to open Clinton’s Jan. 17 deposition and other documents filed under seal in the case. They argued leaks of secret information have rendered the gag order imposed last October ineffective.
Robert Hoemeke, a lawyer for the news groups, declined to comment on the specifics of the judge’s ruling until he has read it.
``The options are to ask her to reconsider or consider going to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals,″ Hoemeke said Monday night from his St. Louis home. ``I can’t tell you now what we’re going to do.″
In a scathing attack, Wright accused the news media of using gossip, speculation, innuendo and questionable sources for printing stories that are ``apparently no longer subjected to critical examination ... for accuracy and bias.″
Protecting the privacy interests of people ``who might be the subject of intrusive and embarrassing discovery is good cause ... for maintaining the order,″ the judge said.
Mrs. Jones claims that Clinton propositioned her in a Little Rock hotel room in 1991, when she was a state employee and he was Arkansas governor. She says she rebuffed his advances and suffered on the job for that. Clinton denies the allegations.
The trial is to begin May 27.