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A gag order is type of order that is sometimes necessary to protect a person's right to a fair trial. It can also be called a suppression order or prior restraint order. Because of the important First Amendment rights of free speech involved, gag orders must be the least restrictive means to protect the interests involved.
Most, gag orders are used against participants involved in a lawsuit or criminal trial especially when it is a widely publicized or sensational case. It is also used to prevent media from publishing unwanted information on a particular topic. For example a criminal court can issue a gag order for the media if it believes that potential jurors will be influenced by the media reporting. In a widely-publicized or sensational case, the court, on motion of either party or on its own motion, may issue a special order governing such matters as extrajudicial statements by parties and witnesses likely to interfere with the rights of the accused to a fair trial by an impartial jury, the seating and conduct in the courtroom of spectators and news media representatives, the management and sequestration of jurors and witnesses, and any other matters that the court may deem appropriate for inclusion in such an order. In such cases, it may be appropriate for the court to consult with representatives of the news media concerning the issuance of such a special order.
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