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N.M. Court Upolds News Coverage Ban

September 7, 2000

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ New Mexico’s Supreme Court upheld a ban on news coverage of custody hearings for a severely overweight 3-year-old girl who was taken from her parents.

The high court on Wednesday turned down an appeal of Children’s Court Judge Tommy Jewell’s decision to bar reporters from the hearings, which resumed Thursday. The state and the girl’s family have also agreed to keep silent.

``Essentially, the Supreme Court has allowed a blackout on one of the most compelling abuse and neglect cases in this country,″ said Martin Esquivel, lawyer for The Associated Press and other news organizations.

Jewell barred reporters from Tuesday’s hearing, saying ``the court has basically lost control″ of the case because of the intense international publicity.

State law allows for the media to attend custody hearings as long as the child and family members are not identified. Esquivel argued that the names were already public.

Anamarie Martinez-Regino’s parents, who haven’t been charged with a crime, have gone to court to regain custody of their daughter, who was taken by the state Aug. 25. At the time, she weighed 120 pounds and was 3 1/2 feet tall. Doctors tested Anamarie for a variety of conditions, but court documents don’t specify the cause of the weight gain and rapid growth.

The parents defend the care of their only child, although an affidavit filed by a social worker says Anamarie ``will surely die″ unless she uses a breathing machine when she sleeps, follows a special diet and exercises more.

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