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UPDATE: Judge clarifies stance; will let media in Berger hearing

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UPDATE: New Hanover County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Jerry Brewer says Judge Sandra Ray Criner has clarified her decision on allowing media into a hearing later this week.

Brewer says Criner called Sheriff Ed McMahon Tuesday evening and said media she will allow reporters into her courtroom for Friday's protective order hearing against New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger. Criner, though, decided cameras would not be allowed during the hearing.

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- We have learned that District Court Judge Sandra Ray Criner is considering banning all media from New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger's protective order hearing Friday.

It's not unusual for a judge to ban cameras in the courtroom, but it's very rare for one to ban reporters from sitting the courtroom and taking notes.

Berger's ex-girlfriend Heather Blaylock took out a protective order last week against Berger. He was served minutes after a news conference where he announced he would not resign.

Both have been in the media countless times since January when DSS investigated to see if Blaylock's children, who were living with Berger, were living in unsuitable conditions. Neither DSS, Berger or Blaylock would tell us what the outcome of the investiagtion was.

WWAY has contacted the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters to get more information on media law and courtroom issues regarding the banning of reporters from a public hearing.

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