A federal judge has ordered the Los Angeles Times to remove information from an article that described a plea agreement between prosecutors and a Glendale police detective accused of working with the Mexican Mafia.
The Times decried the move as highly unusual and unconstitutional.
The agreement was supposed to have been filed under seal, but it was mistakenly made available on PACER, a public online database for federal court documents.
In response to the order from U.S. District Judge John F. Walter, The Times revised the article to eliminate information about the sealed document. The newspaper intends to contest the order.
“We believe that once material is in the public record, it is proper and appropriate to publish it if it is newsworthy,” said Norman Pearlstine, executive editor of the Los Angeles Times.
The detective, John Saro Balian, pleaded guilty on July 12 to three counts: lying to federal investigators about his links to organized crime, accepting a bribe and obstructing justice by tipping off a top criminal target about an upcoming federal raid.
After the article was published, Balian’s attorney sought a temporary restraining order, which Walter granted Saturday afternoon.