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Mecklenburg Judge Loses Battle To Stop Critical Local Story

Judge Aretha Blake - District Court Judge

This week at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, one judge asked another to block a forthcoming report that she says would further damage her reputation as she runs for reelection.

Earlier this month, WBTV's Nick Ochsner reported that a District Court Judge Aretha Blake has taken years to enter orders in dozens of family cases.

In court documents, Blake, who moved from family to juvenile court, claims Ochsner made “misleading and false” statements and that his reporting “intentionally misled the voting public.” Blake asked Superior Court Judge Daniel Kuehnert to block a forthcoming WBTV report that she says would further defame her character.

The upcoming election was the theme in court Wednesday. Blake’s attorney, Walter Bowers, argued Ochsner’s reporting was intended to disgrace and degrade Blake and was also an attack on a free and fair public election.

Ochsner’s attorney, Jon Buchan, who frequently represents WFAE, argued that if the court intervened, it would be censoring the media — a violation of the First Amendment. He also said that if the court intervened, it could be a detriment to the public and voters.

Ultimately Judge Kuehnert denied Judge Blake’s request for a temporary restraining order, which would have temporarily blocked Ochsner’s pending report on Blake. Before both parties left, Kuehnert said, “I don’t have a crystal ball and I can’t determine right or wrong in this situation.” He added that if the reports weren’t true, that a great injustice was being done to Blake.

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