Next month, the extortion case of Karen Sypher will finally go to trial. And every local media outlet will be doing its best to keep you informed of every development.
But the presiding U.S. District Judge, Charles R. Simpson III, has issued a pre-trial edict that's not only vague about what it requires, but also raises questions about whether the judge is overstepping his Constitutional bounds.
The judge is well within his rights to prohibit any contact between journalists and Ms. Sypher in the courtroom or on the courthouse property. He's also free to order Ms. Sypher not to discuss the case with reporters at any time, anywhere.
But I'm disturbed by what appears to be his order to journalists not to report anything Ms. Sypher may say if she violates his order. As written, the order is ambiguous, but Judge Simpson has refused to issue any follow-up clarification and his representatives are understandably reluctant to speak on his behalf.
Speaking for Fox 41 News, we definitely will not initiate any contact with Ms. Sypher if that's the judge's wish. But if he is attempting to suppress any information she may willingly offer, we believe he's violating the First Amendment.
This is no time for ambiguity. If the judge would just take a moment to clarify his order, we – and every other news organization in town – would certainly appreciate it.
I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my…Point of View.