LA Times protests judge’s order to change article

The Los Angeles Times is protesting a federal judge's order to remove information from an article the newspaper published on Saturday morning, according to the LA Times

U.S. District Judge John F. Walter on Saturday ordered the Times to delete certain details from an article about a Glendale police detective accused of working with the Mexican mafia. 

The Times said they will contest this order, calling it an unusual violation of the First Amendment.

"We believe that once material is in the public record, it is proper and appropriate to publish it if it is newsworthy," Norman Pearlstine, executive editor of the Times, said.

ADVERTISEMENT
 

The defendant, John Saro Balian, pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying about his involvement with organized crime, accepting a bribe and obstructing justice, the Times reported. 

The judge granted Balian, 45, a restraining order against the newspaper on Saturday, but the article had already gone to print. 

The article in question details a plea agreement between Balian and prosecutors. Though the agreement was supposed to be sealed, it was accidentally made available publicly available.

The Times removed references to the plea agreement on Saturday, but noted they plan to reverse the move.  

"This story has been updated to remove references from the filed plea agreement, which was ordered sealed by a judge but publicly available Friday on the federal court’s online document database," a note at the bottom of the article reads. "The changes were made to comply with an order issued Saturday by a U.S. federal judge."

"The Times plans to challenge the order," the note adds.

The FBI's Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force previously identified Balian as a person of interest during an investigation into the Mexican mafia and Armenian organized crime, the Times reported.

Balian is currently on unpaid leave from the police department.