by Max Brantley
District Judge Lee Munson today declined to loosen his protective orders pertaining to Curtis Lavelle Vance, suspect in the murder of Anne Pressly. Parties in the case remain gagged and he refused to lift his order that prevented release of County Jail records about Vance. These are typically open to inspection. An attorney for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette had argued earlier in the day for release of jail records. A public defender argued that the records should remain closed because Vance's defense could be compromised even by release of information about who visited him.
Said the judge: "The Court hereby finds that release of Mr. Vance's jail records will irreparably compromise the ability of the defendant to obtain a fair trial and that there is no less restrictive measure by which this right can be protected." Attorneys in the case may obtain the records.
The judge issued the order after finding "that the high level of publicity and media attention in this case threaten to destroy Mr. Vance's right to a fair trial by an impartial jury." He said the court had "an affirmative duty to minimize the effects of prejudicial pre-trial publicity."
To the best of my knowledge, nobody suspected that the jail records, at this point at least, contained much of interest in the case.