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4th Circuit to hear media’s gag order appeal in mine case

(AP) A federal appeals court in Virginia will hear a dispute over a gag order in former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s criminal case.

Blankenship was CEO when the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia exploded in 2010, killing 29 men. He’s charged with conspiring to violate safety and health standards.

The Associated Press and other news outlets are appealing a gag order in the case. A hearing is set for Monday in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger ruled in January that much of her gag order was necessary to keep prospective jurors unbiased. Berger made opinions and orders public, but kept most documents sealed. Attorneys or relatives of victims are barred from discussing the case with reporters or releasing documents.

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