Teacher's lawyer seeks gag order, records sealed

April 05, 1994

The lawyer for a teacher indicted for allegedly mistreating a Glen Burnie special education student has asked an Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge to seal the court records and prohibit lawyers or witnesses in the case from discussing it.

Roland Walker, the lawyer for Susan Hope Pagano, said yesterday the gag order he requested Friday may be necessary to prevent pretrial publicity that would make a fair trial impossible.

Circuit Judge Robert H. Heller Jr. has scheduled a hearing for Thursday afternoon to consider the request.

State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee and Mary Craig, a lawyer for The Sun, said they would likely oppose the request if it is considered Thursday.

But Mr. Walker said he is considering dropping the request. Whether he pursues it depends in part on how much media coverage the case receives in the next few days, he said.

"If people read and re-read information about the case, they're going to have a hard time keeping an open mind when it comes to trial," Mr. Walker said yesterday.

Ms. Pagano was indicted by a county grand jury March 28 for misconduct in office and obstruction of justice based on an incident on Dec. 10, 1993 at the Ruth Parker Eason School on Old Mill Road in Millersville, where she taught.

Mr. Weathersbee has declined comment on the case, beyond saying the indictment stems from allegations Ms. Pagano put a 16-year-old special education student in a closet at the school and failed to report the injuries that resulted.

After the indictment, the girl's father told reporters that his daughter, who is blind and uses a wheelchair, was bruised and badly upset by the incident.

No trial date has been set.

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