Tenn. judge issues gag order in police-slaying case
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A Hamilton County judge has issued a gag order in the case of a man charged in the fatal shooting of a Chattanooga police officer after he agreed to talk to a newspaper columnist.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Judge Barry Steelman’s order bars Jesse Mathews, as well as prosecutors and defense attorneys, from making “any public statements to the media regarding this or related cases,” according to court documents.
Mathews is accused of shooting police Sgt. Tim Chapin as the officer attempted to stop him from fleeing an April 2 pawn shop robbery.
The newspaper’s attorney, Anthony “Bud” Jackson, said he would file a motion today objecting to the order and asking the judge to either remove or reduce it.
“Important First Amendment rights are threatened by a gag order, regardless of whether the case involves a notorious crime,” Jackson was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “The press cannot fulfill its crucial role of reporting the news if parties and witnesses are gagged from talking to the media.”
Mathews’ trial is set for Jan. 22, 2013.