Travis Scott accused of violating Astroworld suits gag order
A gag order is a legal order by a court or government, restricting information or comment from being made public or passed onto any unauthorized third party.
Attorneys for some of those killed and injured at last year's deadly Astroworld music festival claimed in court on Monday that rapper Travis Scott violated a gag order issued in lawsuits his team filed in an attempt to influence potential jurors and rebuild his reputation in advance of a potential trial.
Scott made an announcement earlier this month about Project HEAL, a $5 million initiative that includes money for a project to solve safety issues for festivals and large-scale events. Houston police and federal officials are examining whether Scott, event promoter Live Nation, and others took enough safety precautions.
“My team and I created Project HEAL to take much-needed action towards supporting real solutions that make all events the safest spaces they can be. I will always honor the victims of the Astroworld tragedy who remain in my heart forever,” Scott wrote earlier this month on Instagram after the initiative was announced.
However, during a court hearing Monday, Bob Hilliard, one of the attorneys representing the family of 9-year-old Ezra Blount, the youngest person to die from injuries sustained during the festival, stated that Scott used the power of his social media presence to address the concert safety, one of the issues being debated by the lawsuits.
State District Judge Kristen Hawkins previously stated that lawyers might tell the media about factual concerns that occurred in court, but she did not want attorneys or anyone to make their claims in public and potentially influence the jury pool.
Scott's actions "did affect and diminish the strength of your order," Hilliard told Hawkins, who is in charge of the nearly 500 cases filed after 10 people were killed and hundreds more were injured during a large crowd surge at Scott's Nov. 5 concert.
According to Stephen Brody, one of Scott's attorneys, the rapper's statement about the effort, which included scholarship financing, did not break the gag order. Scott's counsel has argued that any attempt to ban him from commenting on this or any other issue would violate his constitutional right to free expression.
Such charitable efforts have “been a constant in his life” and “to suggest somehow that speaking about those charitable initiatives ... runs afoul of the publicity order ... is certainly not something that would withstand scrutiny,” Brody said.
During the hearing, ABC News attorneys told Hawkins that they believed the gag order was prohibiting reporters from adequately reporting on the lawsuits because some attorneys were afraid to even speak about factual concerns discussed in court or papers.
Other attorneys in the case told Hawkins that they were working on a compromise to amend the gag order and that a resolution to these many concerns may be offered to her in a couple of weeks.
“I look forward to seeing what proposals you come up with,” Hawkins said.
The victims of the concert ranged in age from nine to twenty-seven years old. Approximately 300 individuals were hurt and treated at the scene, with 25 being sent to hospitals. Those that died was a result of compressive asphyxia.