Tuesday, July 09, 2002

3 Ky. journalists dispute contempt ruling

The Associated Press

        INEZ — Three eastern Kentucky journalists have asked a judge to reconsider his decision to hold them in contempt of court for not changing the name of their newspaper.

        The Mountain Citizen has been embroiled in a court battle to keep its name since a local official, who had been the subject of critical reporting, legally claimed it through the secretary of state's office.

        “We think there's just some minor factual things that, if the judge looked at again, he might decide differently,” said David Fleenor, a Lexington attorney representing newspaper owner Lisa Stayton, publisher Roger Smith and editor Gary Ball.

        Judge Daniel Sparks fined the journalists $500 each in June for defying his order to stop using the name after Inez attorney John R. Triplett obtained it.

        Triplett, former chairman of the Martin County Water Board, took the paper's name after Stayton inadvertently allowed incorporation papers to lapse.

        Kentucky corporations are required to submit annual reports to the secretary of state's office. Those that don't are presumed inactive and are dissolved. The Mountain Citizen hadn't filed an annual report in two years, making that name — along with others held by parent company New Wave Communications — fair game.

        Fleenor, in a motion filed in Martin County Circuit Court on Monday, argued that the journalists did not willfully violate the order.


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