Connecticut Supreme Court hears gag order appeal in Dulos case

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The Connecticut Supreme Court heard an appeal of a gag order in the criminal case against the estranged husband of missing New Canaan mother Jennifer Dulos.

Fotis Dulos and attorney Norm Pattis appeared before the Supreme Court Thursday to argue their appeal against a judge's ruling that barred anyone involved in the case from talking about it.

"I've never seen a warrant that permits law enforcement's speculative belief about what they believe my client may have done be passed off as facts for probable cause," Pattis said in court.

Fotis Dulos is charged with evidence tampering and hindering prosecution in connection to his estranged wife's disappearance.

Jennifer Dulos was last seen seen more than six months ago.

Pattis told the seven justices that the order impedes on his client's rights to free speech and to a fair trial. He also argued the order prevents him from defending Dulos against speculation and insinuation put out by law enforcement that his client is a murderer.

"We don't think he should be required to sit silently while the state slaughters him in the press with speaking indictments," Pattis said. "Look at that second warrant and ask yourself whether you've ever seen anything like it."

The State's Attorney requested a gag order over the summer in response to "prejudicial comments" Pattis made in the media, comments he said would taint a prospective jury pool.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Robert Scheinblum presented the state's case to uphold the order.

"If pervasive, prejudicial pretrial publicity threatens to undermine the prospect of a fair trial, the judge has an affirmative constitutional duty to take appropriate measures," Scheinblum said.

Scheinblum says without it, the case will become a circus.

Outside the courthouse, Fotis Dulos and Pattis addressed the media. Fotis Dulos told reporters the ruling infringes on his 1st Amendment right.

Scheinblum also argued this is an "extreme, rare case" when a gag order is needed to ensure a fair trial.

A decision is not expected for at least a few weeks, although it could take longer. Pattis says he intends to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court if the state's highest court rules against him.

 

 

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