Gag order issued in trial of rape at Kennedy estate

June 08, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA — WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The judge in the William Kennedy Smith rape case announced a gag order yesterday on virtually anyone connected with the case, saying she had a "constitutional duty to minimize the effect of prejudicial pretrial publicity on both sides."

The order, to be signed by Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Mary Lupo early next week, would bar all participants in the case -- including all potential witnesses -- from discussing trial issues outside court.

"I find that the media coverage has been incessant and very closely parallels the coverage extended in the [Dr. Samuel H.] Sheppard case," Judge Lupo said, referring to the circus atmosphere surrounding a celebrated 1954 murder case in Ohio.

"I am deeply concerned that material that has been published in the media contains graphic, detailed information concerning the alleged events that can seriously jeopardize the rights of the state and the defense to a fair trial."

Judge Lupo said that the gag order was temporary and hinted that she would entertain objections from attorneys for the news media at a June 13 hearing.

Judge Lupo's gag order arose from a defense request to restrict the public comments of police and prosecutors..

Prosecutor Moira Lasch objected strongly to the accusations of misconduct.

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