Stations shed gag

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Responding to a petition by Albuquerque, N.M., media, including TV stations KRQE(TV) and KOAT-TV , the New Mexico Supreme Court lifted a gag order on parties and witnesses in the case of a 3-year-old who was taken from her parents after state officials believed the parents had not dealt with the child's obesity.

Trial Judge Tommy Jewell had not lifted the order even though the case against the parents had been dismissed and even though the parents had gone public-initially to KRQE's Andrea Thompson-voluntarily before the court proceedings.

According to KRQE attorney Marty Esquivel, the judge created something the judge called "a stipulated gag order," in which the participants agreed not to talk to the media.

"I'm a media attorney, and I've never heard these terms," he said. But, Esquivel added, the parents' attorney claimed not to have attended a meeting on the gag order nor did the family agree to it. Still, he said, he had to go to the state Supreme Court three times to get the order lifted.

KRQE News Director Dan Salamone commented, "We have always felt that the gag order was inappropriate and was unnecessary. And it was extraordinary that, even when there was no longer a criminal proceeding, the judge would have the audacity to suggest the gag order was still in effect."

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