HATTIESBURG (WDAM) - The attorney for Forrest County's Youth Court has filed its response with the State Supreme Court, asking the high court to keep in place an injunction that prohibits WDAM from showing video of alleged abuse in the juvenile detention center. The brief also asks the court to dismiss our emergency petition for a hearing.
Youth Court Judge Mike McPhail issued the injunction in December preventing the station from showing the video, citing youth court statutes that protect the identities of juveniles. WDAM filed the emergency petition with the Supreme Court arguing the injunction is an unconstitutional prior restraint on our ability to publish truthful information of public significance. WDAM undertook to blur the faces of juveniles in the video.
In the state's response, prosecutor Pam Castle says there has never been a request from WDAM to seek court permission to use the video. The motion goes on to say WDAM was simply interested in airing the footage for the sensation it might create and not for any other reason. In the brief, Castle says WDAM had the ability to use the video before the injunction and was planning to air it on January 4th...but those involved in preparing the story say they were asked by prosecutors and attorneys for the sheriff's office to wait until January 4th because of the New Years holiday. The station agreed....and within three hours was served with the injunction. The Supreme Court is currently considering WDAM's petition.