Fotis Dulos' attorney files to appeal gag order

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Norm Pattis filed an appeal Wednesday asking the higher court to overturn what he calls an "unprecedented order."

"It's our position the judge acted in ways that no other court in the United States ever has," he said.

He railed against a recent gag order this week saying it unfairly hinders his ability to defend Fotis Dulos against accusations he killed his estranged wife, Jennifer Dulos.

In a brief filed Wednesday, Pattis said the prosecution has used two arrest warrants that charge Fotis Dulos with tampering with evidence as "the functional equivalent of a public investigative grand jury, strategically feeding public speculation that Mr. Dulos is a murderer."

Fotis Dulos has not been charged with murder.

Local attorney Matthew Maddox has been following the Dulos case and believes Pattis has grounds for an appeal.

"I think that should be subject to some commentary," he said. "If he's focusing on First Amendment rights, there certainly are constitutional issues here."

But Maddox says he believes it will be an uphill battle against a very old law in a modern era, one where social media and the nonstop news cycle has led to constant coverage of investigations like the Dulos case.

"I do think our courts and our judges need to understand the context in which we, as trial lawyers, are operating now," he said.

The question he poses is, what are the limits of lawyer advocacy in today's world?

Pattis gave his answer in the brief: "The presumption of innocence cannot survive the toxic swirl of innuendo and speculation unless it can address those toxins head on. Mr. Dulos didn't pick this fight; the State did."

Earlier this week, Judge Blawie said there is precedent for this kind of order. He referenced the Cheshire home invasion and the Whitey Bulger cases.

Blawie granted the gag order on Sept. 12 after a request by the prosecution. It limits what attorneys, investigators and possible witnesses can say publicly about the case.

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