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Jones Judge Reconsiders Ruling

A federal judge is reconsidering her decision to close files and impose a gag order in Paula Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton.

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Acting on orders from an appeals court, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright on Monday gave media lawyers until June 19 to persuade her that privacy concerns aren't strong enough for her to maintain a confidentiality order in the case.

A group of media organizations, including The Associated Press, had asked that the files be opened.

After Wright declined, the media groups appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court ordered the judge to reconsider her decision in light of her April 1 ruling dismissing Mrs. Jones' lawsuit.

On Monday, Wright said she was particularly interested in hearing the parties address her conclusion that protecting the privacy of people who might be the subject of intrusive and embarrassing discovery is reason enough for maintaining the order.

Other media organizations who sued to lift the order include CBS; The New York Times; Pulitzer Publishing; USA Today; ABC; NBC; CNN; Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; Fox News Network; the Society of Professional Journalists; and Little Rock Newspapers Inc. the publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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