The Daily Iberian earlier this week deleted an anonymous comment after 16th Judicial (Franklin, New Iberia, St. Martinville Parishes) District Division G Judge Curtis Segur signed a temporary restraining order that directed the newspaper to censor it.
The action came as a result of a lawsuit filed by New Iberia attorney David Groner against the Iberian, complaining that the comment damaged his reputation.
The comment concerned Groner’s 2008 suspension by the Louisiana Supreme Court, which was deferred until completion of a probationary period. See here the document:
Likely Groner’s efforts to silence the newspaper have backfired, as the story has been carried in other newspapers and on TV.
It is settled law that courts cannot prohibit publication of comments or news, except in cases of national security. Judges can sometimes issue “gag orders” to protect a defendants right to a fair trial.
The legal precedent against “prior restraint” of speech was established in 1931 by the U. S. Supreme Court in Near v Minnesota, where a Minnesota mayor and police chief didn’t like what a local newspaper wrote about them.
Most famously, this prohibition against censorship was upheld in New York Times v United States – The Pentagon Papers case – where the Nixon administration tried to prevent publication of the documents.
The newspaper’s publisher said that they would appeal the judge’s decision. Representing the Iberian is Baton Rouge attorney Scott Sternberg. LPNO readers will recognize that name from the case where Ouachita judges sued The Ouachita Citizen.