‘Veered Off A Very Dangerous Road’: Judge Backs Off From Threat To Punish Journalist Over Covenant Reporting

 A judge appeared to back off threats to hold a Tennessee news executive in contempt of court for publishing articles on the writings of a transgender-identifying shooter who killed six people at a Christian school in Nashville last year. 

Tennessee Star Executive Michael Patrick Leahy was ordered to appear on Monday for a contempt of court hearing over his publication of the articles that quote from the writings of the Covenant School shooter. But at the start of the highly anticipated hearing, Davidson County Judge I’Ashea Myles said she was just trying to “understand the landscape” of developments surrounding the case, and that contempt proceedings would not commence. 

Daniel Horowitz, a lawyer representing Leahy, said after the hearing that he was confused about the point of the hearing, but was glad that there was no initiation of contempt proceedings against Leahy, who has sued the city of Nashville seeking a full release of their report on the Covenant School shooting. 

“I don’t know how this evolved or why, but I’m glad the press isn’t being threatened with jail time today. That’s a welcome development,” Horowitz told reporters, including The Daily Wire, after the hearing. “I don’t want reporters going to jail for lawful reporting. That’s why we were here today.” 

Horowitz added that he was encouraged that it seemed like “we have veered off a very dangerous road threatening reporters for lawful reporting.” 

The hearing was the latest in the legal back-and-forth over the writings of the shooter who killed three children and three adults in a March 27, 2023 attack on the Covenant School. The city of Nashville has so far blocked any release of the shooter’s documents, while a group of parents from the school have also sought to have the writings sealed from public view. 

The Tennessee Star began publishing a series of articles earlier this month quoting from the shooter’s writings, noting that it had obtained images of roughly eighty pages of one of the shooter’s journals. Last week, Myles suggested that Leahy might be held in contempt over the articles for violating an unspecified court order. However, Myles said on Monday that the hearing’s purpose was for her to determine whether the publication of articles on some of the shooter’s writings should impact her ruling regarding the full release. 

Myles initial order last week said that Leahy must demonstrate why the “publication of certain purported documents” does not “violate the Orders of this Court subjecting them to contempt proceedings and sanctions.” Leahy was not given the opportunity to make this case. 

In a statement after the hearing, Leahy said that he would continue to practice his First Amendment rights. 

“We started The Tennessee Star so I could exercise my First Amendment rights. I think we have served the public well, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to continue to exercise our First Amendment rights,” Leahy told reporters. 

In a follow up order on Friday denying an appeal from Leahy to dismiss the contempt hearing, Myles amended her order for Monday’s hearing, saying that it would be for the court to “ascertain the veracity of any alleged leak which may have occurred in this matter and if true, any effect on the status of these proceedings.”

At the end of Monday’s hearing, Myles said that she now “understood” what she needed to know about the case, and that she would issue a ruling. It is unclear if this ruling will be about whether there will be a future contempt hearing for Leahy or if it will pertain to the lawsuit against Nashville. 

Last week, The Daily Wire published photos of the attacker’s journal obtained by a source familiar with the Covenant investigation. The pages showed a woman who had been consumed by transgender ideology and conveyed her anger at Christianity and her parents over their traditional views.

‘Veered Off A Very Dangerous Road’: Judge Backs Off From Threat To Punish Journalist Over Covenant Reporting ‘Veered Off A Very Dangerous Road’: Judge Backs Off From Threat To Punish Journalist Over Covenant Reporting Reviewed by Your Destination on June 18, 2024 Rating: 5

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