I am impressed with the widespread outrage in the Maine news industry over Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz’ directive that testimony not be reported from an open-court session Monday in District Court. The various media disobeyed the order, and I salute them.

Things were quite different around here 30-some years ago.

My final act as managing editor of the Kennebec Journal in 1981 was to proofread an editorial at the request of my boss, the general manager.

The editorial apologized for my decision to ignore a judge’s order to withhold reporting on testimony in open court. At the end of a morning court session, the judge directed the three reporters present to write nothing about the testimony.

The KJ reporter told me about this, and I discussed it with the general manager. He told me to follow my judgment, so of course I sent the reporter back to the courtroom in the afternoon and we ran a story the following morning.

The other two reporters who had been in court that morning did not return in the afternoon. As far as I know, their organizations published nothing about the case.

The judge declared a mistrial and criticized the KJ from the bench. My general manager wrote the apologetic editorial and it appeared in the KJ the day I left. I had already planned to resign; I don’t remember whether the publication incident caused me to do so earlier than I otherwise would have. I also don’t recall what the case was about, who the judge was or anything else regarding the matter.

I had been at the KJ for nine years; the general manager was relatively new.

The executive director of the Maine Press Association told me later that the MPA board had decided not to do anything because my own paper had editorialized against the decision to publish.

Some time later, the publisher of the Lewiston newspapers gave me hell for what I had done. His editor, he told me, said I had violated the policy of the Guy Gannett Publishing Co., which owned the Portland and Augusta papers at the time.

I never heard a peep about this from the Guy Gannett people, although the company president did call me from Portland to express general regret that I was leaving. No one else in the news business said anything, publicly or privately.

Jim Milliken now lives in Portland.

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