NPPC Jumps Into Lawsuit Gag Order Battle

The National Pork Producers Council and the North Carolina Pork Council have filed a court brief in support of lifting a judge’s gag order related to nuisance lawsuits filed against more than two dozen hog farms.

Judge Earl Britt of the Eastern U.S. District Court in Raleigh imposed the gag order in late June, applying it to the lawsuit parties, lawyers, and potential witnesses in the lawsuits brought against Murphy-Brown, a Smithfield Foods subsidiary.

Both pork organizations filed a brief with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking that the Appeals court grant the Murphy-Brown petition to vacate the District Court’s prior restraint on free speech. In the brief, the pork producers say that “all but the most carefully crafted, narrow gag orders are unconstitutional.” They also pointed out that “it’s not reasonable to think that any gag order will reduce coverage of the cases or the public’s interest in them.”

The judge said a “significant increase in trial publicity” and the “volume and scope of prejudicial publicity” around the first two cases could taint future jurors.