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Court declines to accept free speech amici brief

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    NMU         OKLAHOMA         Secret Courts         Dec 13, 2000    

Court declines to accept free speech amici brief

  • Advocates cannot assert public interest argument in support of a prosecutor disqualified from the Terry Nichols case.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Dec. 7 rejected an application to file a friend of the court brief on behalf of a prosecutor in the Terry Nichols murder case.

The Oklahoma Press Association and FOI Oklahoma argued to the court that Bob Macy had a protected right to speak out about the case stemming from the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Macy spoke to the media about the bombing despite a judically imposed gag order on the trial participants. The trial judge disqualified Macy from prosecuting the case because his public comments violated the state Rules of Professional Conduct.

Macy appealed his disqualification. The Oklahoma Press Association and FOI Oklahoma advocated that public officials have an affirmative obligation to address questions from the media.

In denying permission to file a brief, the criminal appeals court said it “appreciates the interest and concern of these groups,” but added that “in order to expedite the proceedings in this matter, their motions are denied.”

Mark Thomas, executive director of the Oklahoma Press Association, said, “the irony is, because of tight deadlines, it would have been a really short brief.”

(Oklahoma v. Linder; Media Counsel: Michael Minnis) AG

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