Former Assistant Attorney General Jeff Clark Raises Three Concerns with Judge’s Order in Lawsuit to Release Covenant Killer Writings

Former acting Assistant Attorney General Jeff Clark raised three concerns on Thursday in response to news that Michael Patrick Leahy, the editor-in-chief of The Tennessee Star and CEO of its publisher Star News Digital Media, Inc. (SNDM), was compelled to appear in court on Monday.

Tennessee Chancery Court Judge I’Ashea L. Myles first ordered Leahy to appear in court on June 10 after The Star published dozens of articles reporting the journal entries of Covenant School killer Audrey Elizabeth Hale. The Star confirmed last week it obtained Hale’s journal and a portion of police documents from a source familiar with the Covenant investigation.

Both Leahy and SNDM are plaintiffs in the ongoing lawsuit to compel the Metro Nashville Police Department to release the documents left by Hale, including those that some call a manifesto. They are also plaintiffs in the ongoing lawsuit to compel the FBI to do the same.

Clark wrote in a Thursday post to the social media platform X that Leahy “is in jeopardy in Tennessee state court for trying to get out the Covenant Killer Audrey Hale’s ‘manifesto. And presumably other info about her.”

The June 10 court order by Myles established that Leahy would be compelled to explain why he should not be held in contempt or fined as a result of articles published by The Star, which she suggested could have violated an unspecified previous order of her court.

The former Trump administration official cited the right of the public to see the materials left by Hale, including the roughly 80 pages from the journal Hale left in her vehicle, which were obtained by The Star.

“This is what the free press is for,” Clark wrote. “It’s not designed to coddle the trans movement or keep secrets that could get people killed through ignorance.”

Clark then argued that Myles’s June 10 court order appears to suffer from three flaws.

He explained, “what’s being threatened against Mike Leahy seems to be a strange amalgam” which begins with “violating the First Amendment ban on prior restraints on speech.”

Both an emergency appeal and a now-denied motion, submitted on behalf of Leahy by nationally recognized First Amendment attorney Daniel A. Horwitz, argued that even though Myles did not cite a previous court order that would have forbidden reporting by The Star, such an order would have been an unconstitutional prior restraint on Leahy’s speech.

Clark added that the threat against Leahy also seems to include “a threatened mystery violation of law,” which he asserted is “just like the Alvin Bragg case,” which targeted former President Donald Trump.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg, in his New York case against Trump, which resulted in the former president’s criminal conviction, has argued that the gag order granted by New York Judge Juan Merchan should remain in place even after Trump was found guilty.

Clark then argued that Leahy seems to face “weaponization of contempt law, like what’s going down in Fulton County with Judge Glanville in the Young Thug Trial.”

The former Trump administration official referenced the Georgia trial of Jeffrey Lamar Williams, whose stage name is Young Thug, and his Young Slime Life (YSL) musical associates. Prosecutors under embattled Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis are prosecuting Williams and his associates in a racketeering case that claims they are part of a criminal enterprise that charts its exploits in music.

Judge Ural Glanville on Tuesday ordered Brian Steel, Williams’s defense attorney, in contempt after the lawyer questioned Glanville about an allegedly illegal collusion between the judge, prosecutors, and a witness.

“What’s going on in America? It’s like a slice of the state judiciary across multiple States has lost its collective mind,” wrote Clark.

He concluded, “It must be election silly season.”

Clark later wrote in a subsequent post to X that judicial attacks on the press began “with trying to shut down war on terrorism reporting” during former President George W. Bush’s presidency but “[r]eached a crescendo” during the Obama administration.

He wrote, “Now it’s on the rise again and no one is going to tell me it’s not connected to the 2024 election. As is the Bragg case. And as is the Young Thug trial which has at the root of its insanity a Georgia RICO statute that Fani Willis loves to use like passing out candy at Halloween.

A Friday legal filing submitted by MNPD confirmed the authenticity of both the pages from Hale’s manifesto referenced in reporting by The Star and the Covenant investigation documents published by The Star.

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Tom Pappert is the lead reporter for The Tennessee Star, and also reports for The Pennsylvania Daily Star and The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Tom on X/Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].






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