U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

NC blogger issued no-contact, no-trespass orders after confronting county attorney

Incident Details

Date of Incident
February 16, 2024

Prior Restraint

Status of Prior Restraint
Mistakenly Released Materials?

A portion of the temporary no-contact order issued to independent blogger Thom Roddy on Feb. 16, 2024, by a North Carolina county court, limiting access to a county attorney. It was later made permanent.

February 16, 2024

Independent blogger Thom Roddy was issued no-contact and no-trespassing orders in Currituck County, North Carolina, on Feb. 16, 2024, after approaching the county attorney to question her following a County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Roddy, who runs the investigative blog Blackwater Reports, said the orders were imposed following a Feb. 15 encounter in which he attempted to question County Attorney Megan Morgan in a parking lot outside the county courthouse about her role in the censure of one of the elected commissioners.

The next day, Morgan filed a complaint saying that Roddy had pinned her between two vehicles, and was pointing and yelling at her inches from her face. “I was trapped,” Morgan alleged in the complaint. She also said that leading up to the incident, Roddy had made daily posts on his website about her, “with false statements, emails, calls.”

In a statement, Roddy said he had “approached the county attorney in a well-lit parking lot outside the county seat, with many others present, and attempted to ask questions about her involvement” in the censure. A video taken by Roddy after the start of the dispute shows him standing at least several feet away from Morgan.

“While I stood at a considerable distance from Morgan, as corroborated by video evidence, it’s customary for members of the press to position microphones and cell phones inches away from public officials’ lips in the pursuit of eliciting a response,” Roddy said.

“Morgan’s apprehension wasn’t triggered by my mere physical proximity,” Roddy wrote to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, “but rather by the nature of the questions I sought to ask. Subsequently, she mobilized the government’s resources, enlisted a colleague’s assistance, involved the Sheriff’s Office, and manipulated the justice system. … The no-contact and no-trespass orders amounted to little more than Prior Restraint.”

The no-contact order, issued by the district court, restricts Roddy from visiting Morgan at her work or residence, or contacting her by phone, in writing or electronically. The order was made permanent by the court after a Feb. 23 hearing, Roddy said.

The no-trespassing order, signed by the county manager, restricts Roddy indefinitely from being on the property of the county courthouse or entering the building.

In April, after an email was sent to Morgan from a Blackwater Reports account, she filed a new motion asking that Roddy be held in contempt for violating the no-contact order. A hearing has been scheduled for May 9.

Morgan did not respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].