Judge Weighs Ending Ban On Newspaper Publication

Sep 22, 2014

Alagasco sued to block any stories after the Montgomery Advertiser asked questions about the contents of a gas line safety document.
Credit Alabama Gas Company

An Alabama judge is considering whether to lift his order blocking the Montgomery Advertiser from publishing material from a utility company document.

During a hearing Monday, attorneys for the paper asked Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert S. Vance to end the ban. They say it's unconstitutional prior restraint.

Lawyers for Alabama Gas Corp. argue the paper received a gas line safety document illegally through an open records request. They've asked Vance to make the publication ban permanent.

The judge says he will rule by noon Tuesday on whether to end a temporary restriction on publication. He's also planning another hearing for Thursday.

The Alabama Public Service Commission provided the gas line plan to the newspaper. Alagasco sued to block any stories after the newspaper asked questions about the document's contents.