Judge jails editor over reporter’s use of recorder in court

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Richmond County Daily Journal News Editor Gavin Stone is shown in this undated booking photo. A North Carolina judge sent small-town newspaper editor Gavin Stone to jail after one of his reporters brought an audio recorder to court to cover a murder trial in June. Recorders are prohibited in the courtroom. Richmond County Daily Journal reporter Matthew Sasser was fined $500 and Stone was sentenced to five days in jail. The newspaper has appealed and Stone was let out of jail a day after being sentenced. (The Richmond County Daily Journal via AP)

RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina judge sent a small-town newspaper editor to jail after one of his reporters brought an audio recorder to court.

Superior Court Judge Stephan Futrell charged a Richmond County Daily Journal news editor and a staff writer with criminal contempt of court.

The judge sentenced editor Gavin Stone to five days in jail and fined reporter Matthew Sasser $500.

The newspaper and media rights groups believe the punishment is excessive and threatens free speech.

The court has previously warned the news organization about bringing electronic devices into the courtroom.

The judge did not respond to a request for comment.

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