Ga. Supreme Court tosses out gag order in Tara Grinstead case

Tara Grinstead, an Irwin County High School teacher, was reported missing in October 2005. (AJC file photo)

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Tara Grinstead, an Irwin County High School teacher, was reported missing in October 2005. (AJC file photo)

The Georgia Supreme Court has tossed out a sweeping gag order which prevented the release of some information in the Tara Grinstead homicide case.

“A gag order like this one may be constitutionally permissible in exceptional circumstances, but the record here does not reveal circumstances sufficiently exceptional to warrant such a restraint,” Justice Keith R. Blackwell wrote for a unanimous Court. “For that reason, we vacate the gag order.”

Grinstead, an Irwin County High School teacher, was reported missing from her Ocilla home in October 2005. Her disappearance remained a cold case for more than 11 years. In February 2017, the GBI announced an arrest in the case. Ryan Alexander Duke, one of Grinstead's former students, was charged with her murder.

Five days after the arrest, a judge signed a sweeping gag order in the case. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was among the media outlets that challenged the gag order in court. A judge later softened it, but it remained in place.

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