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Summit County attorney motions for gag order in Kouri Richins case

Summit County's courthouse in Silver Summit
Utah State Courts
Summit County's courthouse in Silver Summit

The state of Utah wants a gag order instituted for the remainder of court proceedings against Kouri Richins for the murder of her husband Eric.

Prosecutors filed the gag order motion Wednesday afternoon “in response to the unanticipated and overwhelming media interest in this newly-filed case.”

The motion includes a request that the court issue the gag order immediately before having an official hearing to hear other parties’ positions on the proposed order.

The proposed order filed alongside the motion itself is nearly identical to the one a court granted in State of Idaho v. Bryan Kohberger, who is on trial for stabbing and killing four University of Idaho students last November.

Media outlets tried to get the gag order lifted in that case, but the Idaho Supreme Court ruled against them in April.

If granted, the temporary gag order would prohibit anyone involved in the case from commenting on the case except in court documents. Everyone from attorneys to witnesses to law enforcement to the victim’s family would fall under its purview.

Nothing in the order would prohibit the press from reporting facts on the public record, attending the trial and reporting observations. But the motion made by the county attorney did seem to object to actions made by non-local media outlets.

Non-local reporters have allegedly campted outside the county attorney’s office in Silver Summit. They also allegedly approached one of the court’s clerks at a gas station and “wooed the victim family’s private investigator with promises of a ‘handsome actor’ playing them in [an] upcoming production.”

Prosecutors said they believe at least one witness’ physical safety has been compromised because of contact with news outlets.

They also claim at least four documentary teams in North America and Europe have expressed interest in making a documentary about the case, and Kouri Richins’ jail calls indicate she has been communicating with a documentary filmmaker directly and through a friend.

At the center of all of this, the gag order motion says, are the three children. Prosecutors say a gag order would shield them “to the greatest extent possible from the untimely glare of publicity.”

Anyone who violates the gag order would be held in contempt of court. Punishments can include a more strict gag order, a fine or imprisonment.

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