Should the defense attorney been prohibited from speaking with the press in this case?
A gag order, also known as a protective or suppression order, is used to stop those involved in legal matters from speaking publicly about a case. Gag orders are usually used in high profile cases to ensure that the defendant receives a fair trial free from bias created by the public’s prior knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the matter. In a current New Jersey criminal case that is receiving a lot of media attention the prosecution has asked that the defense be prevented from speaking to the press.
In 1991, Michelle Lodzinski reported her then 5-year old son, Timothy Wiltsey, missing. She claimed he disappeared from a carnival when she went to the refreshment stand. Wiltsey’s body was found 11 months later in an Edison marshland. After new evidence was discovered, Lodzinski was implicated in the murder of her son. The case is set for trial and as of February 25, 2016 jury selection had begun.
The prosecution is concerned about the defense attorney, Gerald Krovatin, talking to the press about the case. So, they filed a motion for a gag order. They argued that allowing Krovatin to release information to the press would bias the Middlesex County jury pool and accused Krovatin of purposefully leaking information. Krovatin argued that this type of order was unconstitutional. Therefore, the judge had to determine whether the public’s right to know information about the case outweighed the risk that the defendant might not receive a fair trial. The judge decided that a gag order was unnecessarily restrictive and extraordinary measure and therefore denied the prosecution’s motion. But, the judge did comment on the matter saying that he hope’s the motion itself will leave the defense thinking twice about releasing certain information to the press.
If you are involved in a high profile case where a gag order is sought, you would be best served by contacting a skilled criminal defense attorney in the Burlington County area.