Media challenges gag order in George Floyd case

A coalition of media organizations have challenged a gag order that was put in place last week prohibiting attorneys representing the former officers involved in George Floyd’s death from talking with the media.

A motion filed Friday in Hennepin County Circuit Court on behalf of several local and national media outlets argued that the July 9 order threatens journalists’ First Amendment rights and was not "narrowly tailored to protect a compelling interest." Judge Peter Cahill, who initially issued the gag order, will hear the motion Tuesday afternoon.

Local media companies requesting the gag order be scaled back included the owners of KSTP, WCCO-TV, KARE-TV, KMSP-TV, Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune. National media representation included CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press.

The gag order came just one day after "two or more" people involved in the Floyd case spoke to reporters. That includes Earl Gray, the attorney representing former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane, who talked with KSTP about new evidence filed in his client’s case.

Cahill stated pretrial publicity "will increase the risk of tainting a potential jury pool and will impair all parties’ right to a fair trial."

However, in the court filing, the media coalition argued that the order "threatens the right of the press and the public to engage in important dialogue" related to broader issues entwined with the Floyd case.

The memorandum states that the case influences conversations on public safety, racial equality and police reform, and these issues do not directly affect the prosecution of Lane and the other former police officers, Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao. It also states that the gag order was too broad and could be interpreted as applying to thousands of state and county employees who have "nothing to do whatsoever" with the prosecution of the defendants.

Earlier this week, attorneys representing Chauvin, Lane, Kueng and Thao also asked for the gag order to be lifted, arguing that their clients had been besmirched in news reports and the prosecution was the only side to benefit from any pretrial publicity.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the gag order had been vacated. This article has been corrected to reflect that the hearing to review the gag order is set for Tuesday, July 21.