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Judge vacates order restricting info in LA Times story

Judge vacates order restricting info in LA Times story
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A federal judge on Tuesday lifted a controversial order requiring the Los Angeles Times to delete information in an article published over the weekend. 

U.S. District Judge John Walter walked back his original decision after the Times protested, with the support of newsrooms across the country, citing First Amendment concerns.

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"I've always been a strong proponent of the First Amendment and believe in public access to this courtroom," Walter said during a hearing on Tuesday, according to the Times.

The judge said he was initially unsure if a plea agreement in a case being covered by the newspaper had been obtained legally and was worried for the defendant's safety, the Times reported.

“I’m concerned about somebody’s life," he said, according to the Times. "And if I err, I’m going to err on the side of protecting this defendant." 

Walter on Saturday issued an order requiring the Times to remove information from an article about a local police detective accused of working with the Mexican Mafia. The article contained information about a sealed plea agreement that was mistakenly made available in an online public database for court documents.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, backed by 59 media organizations, filed a petition before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday proposing to file a friend of the court brief in support of the Times.

"It is plainly unconstitutional for a court to order a news outlet to remove public information from an article it has published," Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said in a statement. "Ninety years of legal precedent says that the court cannot prevent a news organization from doing its job and reporting the information to the public."

The Times on Tuesday restored the details from the plea agreement to the original article.