Judge Denies ‘Gag Order' In Rape Case

Advertisement

Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill denied a "gag order" motion in the case of a man accused of sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled woman in July.

Defense attorney Harlan Green filed a motion to suppress all pre-trial publicity in the case involving a former owner and operator of the Samarripas Center accused of sexually assaulting a client. If granted, the motion would have mandated that those involved with the case, including law enforcement and attorneys, not talk to the press, effectively suppressing the Roundup's coverage.

Attorney Daniel Barr of Brown & Bain represented the Roundup which made a motion to intervene for the purposes of persuading the judge to deny the gag order.

Barr stated that the two main reasons to deny the gag order are that attorneys and law enforcement are already bound by ethical rules that prevent them from making certain prejudicial statements to the press, and that the defendant's attorney must show that press coverage will taint a potential jury.

"There must be a clear and present danger to justice," Barr said. "There is nothing to suggest that this is the case."

Green disagreed. "I don't see it as impeding on the rights of the press -- it's the exact thing that was done in the Kobe Bryant case," Green said. "The point is not to bother the paper, but to get the participants to stop talking about it."

Judge Cahill questioned Green about his motion.

"You are requesting that I order parties not to disseminate information?" Cahill asked. "It's rather extraordinary relief you are requesting."

Green said his reason for making the motion mainly had to do with an interview Sheriff's Detective Brian Havey gave the Roundup.

"You have the power to order him to stop talking," Green said.

Cahill asked County Attorney Daisy Flores if she thought any ethical violation had occurred in her office or the Gila County Sheriff's office.

Flores said that no misconduct had occurred and she did not expect it to occur in the future.

Cahill recessed and rendered his verdict 15 minutes later.

"...the Defendant says that newspaper coverage and ‘quotes from the Sheriff's office' have harmed his ‘family and business.' He claims that the press his case has received has harmed his only means of support. However, and notably, Defendant does not suggest in his motion that his right to a fair trial has been jeopardized in any way.

"... Important social interests are served by the free dissemination of information about these legal proceedings. The people of Payson (through the media) have a right to know about the allegations the State is making here. Moreover, they certainly have a ‘legitimate interest in the conduct of judicial proceedings, particularly in matters of general public concern.'

"There has been no showing of harm -- irreparable or otherwise -- to Defendant's right to a fair trial," Cahill wrote.

With that, Green's motion to suppress all pre-trial publicity was denied.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.