Thursday, April 23, 2009

Judge in Poplawski Case Says Gag Order Not Violated

On April 14th a gag order was issued in the case of Richard Poplawski who is charged with killing three police officers. The order barred police, attorneys and jail employees among others, from discussing the case in public, in a way that would impact the legal process. Six days later the District Attorney’s office revealed that they would seek the death penalty. The Defense attorney called it a violation of the order and sought sanctions.

But according to defense attorney Lisa Middleman, it wasn't the revelation that the DA would seek the death penalty that Defense attorney Lisa Middleman took issue with, but rather the use of the words "as of now, there are no mitigating circumstances" -- meaning that the DA didn't have any evidence at the moment that would compel them to seek a more lenient sentence. Because the defense might give mitigating information during trial, she felt that that jury pool could be tainted by the assumption that none existed. She also believed-though it was never stated-that the families of the victims were covered under the gag order and that the prosecution failed to alert them.

But in the end presiding Judge David Cashman decided that the DA was merely describing the structure and schedule of the case, and had qualified his statement with the words "as of now." He also dismissed the notion that the victims' families had violated the order.

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