The Colorado Supreme
Court is being asked to overturn a gag order in the
Rocky Flats beryllium trial that shut down a Web site
run by a university professor.
Though the case and the gag order ended Wednesday,
expert witness Dr. David Egilman is worried that it
could be repeated, said his attorney, Bruce Pringle.
Jefferson County District Court Judge Frank Plaut's
order is clearly prior restraint on Egilman's free
speech, Pringle said.
Plaut issued the gag order against all attorneys,
plaintiffs, defendants and witnesses in the Rocky Flats
beryllium trial, and he included Web sites. Egil is an
expert on the history of occupational illnesses,
including asbestosis and beryllium disease. His Web site
includes documents relating to the case, but also his
outraged commentary on it.
The Web site is used by Egilman's class, which
discusses occupational health issues such as those in
the beryllium trial.
"Thus, the information which was the subject of the
gag order was already in the public domain," the
It also says the order was too broad in barring
statements on the Internet about "any witnesses or
evidence in the case."
The Web site incurred the judge's disgust before the
trial began. Plaut said comments made on the site showed
bias that undermined Egilman as an expert witness.
After defense attorneys produced copies of Egilman's
Web site midway through the trial, the judge ordered the
jury to strike his testimony that Brush Wellman planted
scientific articles that discounted the danger of
But Egilman insists he obeyed the judge's order by
making the Web site password-protected, and thus no
longer public. He says Brush Wellman attorneys were able
to take copies off it only by breaking into it