The attorney for the family of Kaylee Goncalves, one of the four University of Idaho students killed in November, filed an appeal to a gag order on Thursday.
On Jan. 3 Magistrate Judge Megan E. Marshall issued a non-dissemination order, also known as a gag order, for all parties involved in the case of Bryan Kohberger — a 27-year-old Washington State University graduate student alleged to have killed four University of Idaho students including Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle.
Gag orders are issued for the purpose of maintaining the impartiality of a trial jury.
The order prohibits law enforcement officials, investigators, attorneys and agents of attorneys from making extrajudicial statements regarding the case.
The order was amended on Jan. 18 to also include witnesses, victims, victims’ family members and the attorneys of the formerly mentioned parties.
Among the restrictions in the gag order are prohibitions on discussing evidence, the character of parties involved in the case, opinions as to the merits of the case and information that a lawyer reasonably should know would be inadmissible in court and that will interfere with a fair trial.
Marshall intends the order to be in effect for the entirety of the case.
Shannon Gray, the attorney for Kaylee Goncalves’ family, argued in a memorandum filed in court on Thursday that the gag order violates the First Amendment rights of the victims’ families. She stated that the order is overly broad as the family does not qualify as parties in the case given that they are not a part of, nor have they received information from the prosecution nor the defense.
“On its face it precludes all comments or opinions (other than reciting matters of public record), even if there is no possibility, much less ‘substantial probability’ of prejudicing the tribunal,” Gray said in the court filing.
Gray also argued that the time span of the gag order is overreaching saying non-dissemination orders are meant to prevent interference with the impartiality of a jury pool, not the jury itself.
In January, East Idaho News joined a coalition of 21 other news organizations to oppose Marshall’s gag order.
“Courts across this country are frequently able, even in the highest of high-profile cases, to find ways to balance defendants’ rights with the rights of the public to have vital information,” said coalition member Dan Shelley, president of the Radio Television Digital News Association, according to East Idaho News. “There is no reason why this court can’t do the same.”
Kohberger is charged with four counts of first-degree murder. His trial begins June 26.