Gag order sought in McCraney case would silence those involved

Coley McCraney arrives at court. Ozark, AL on April 3, 2019. (Source: WTVY)
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Ozark (WTVY)-- Prosecutors are asking a Dale County judge to issue a gag order in the high profile case of Coley McCraney, charged with murdering two teenagers in 1999.

Most unique about the request is they want the media and public barred from all pretrial hearings related to the case.

McCraney's arrest and subsequent court appearances have received significant, if not excessive, local media coverage, National outlets, including CBS and NBC, have also provided limited reports.

“Without judicial intervention, it appears that the prospective jury pool will be saturated with thoughts and opinions regarding the facts and nature of this case before a trial begins,” Dale County Assistant District Attorney David Emery wrote in his motion.

He also wants Judge William H. Filmore to order those involved in McCraney's case to stop making public statements. That order, if granted, would apply to police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and others.

The motion also seeks to seal all court records related to this case.

Defense attorneys object to the gag order, pointing out that Ozark police first publicly discussed the case after they charged McCraney in March with shooting J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett.

Attorneys Andrew Scarborough and David Harrison also blame prosecutors with releasing sensitive details through public court records.

“The prosecution released to the media results of a DNA swab obtained from one of the victims in this case , which was reported to be a match to the Defendant's DNA.”

Scarborough and Harrison also accuse prosecutors of making statements that “contaminate” this case. .

Gag orders are rarely issued but are more common in high profile, and often polarizing, cases like McCraneys. Seldom are proceedings closed to the public and media.

Filmore has a set June 27 hearing on the gag order request.