Lawyers face judge to challenge gag order in Grinstead case

Tara Grinstead disappeared from her Ocilla home in 2005 / Allen Carter

OCILLA, Ga. -- On Thursday, an Irwin County judge heard arguments for and against lifting a gag order related to the Tara Grinstead case.

Judge Melanie Cross enacted the gag order on Tuesday, Feb. 28 following the announcement of the arrest of a second suspect in the 2005 murder of Grinstead.

The gag order prevents all parties to the case, including law enforcement, witnesses and the families of Grinstead and the suspects--Ryan Duke and Bo Dukes--from speaking publicly about the case.

Lawyers for various Georgia media outlets argued that the gag order was over-broad and in order to avoid misinterpretation and infringement on First Amendment rights, it must be more narrowly tailored.

They also argued that there is no evidence that any publicity about the case has affected or will affect the jury pool. They also offered an alternative of changing venues rather than upholding the gag order.

Meanwhile, Duke's public defender John Mobley offered a proposal that would only include parties in the defense and prosecution in addition to law enforcement in the order.

He also said that the gag order is serving to protect the suspects' Sixth Amendment rights to a fair trial by jury.

Mobley also submitted some evidence, including a large amount of media coverage of the case and a Georgia Bureau of Investigation press conference, for the judge to consider.

Cross said she hopes to have an update on the order within a week after she considers the arguments.

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