How common are gag orders?

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Gag orders are increasingly common. A survey conducted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press tracked 43 gag orders in 26 states and the District of Columbia between Feb. 1 and April 20, 2000. Among the Reporters Committee’s findings were:

  • Most of the orders were imposed even though the trial judge did not conduct hearing to determine whether there were less-drastic means to ensure a fair trial.

  • 18 of the 43 orders were imposed in civil rather than criminal cases, including some in cases in which governmental entities were parties.
  • A federal judge in Lubbock, Texas, entered gag orders in nearly all of his cases — a total of 219 cases in two years.