|NMU||PENNSYLVANIA||Secret Courts||Jul 25, 2002|
Judge issues gag order in NBA’s star’s criminal case
- A Philadelphia judge said his order to prohibit lawyers and police from discussing a pro basketball player’s criminal charges with reporters protects the integrity of the court case.
A municipal court judge in Philadelphia issued a gag order forbidding lawyers and police from talking with reporters about criminal charges against NBA star Allen Iverson.
On July 22, Municipal Court Judge James DeLeon told lawyers at a scheduling hearing that he’s placing “a bubble over the proceedings so that now, before the preliminary hearing, the commonwealth and the defense will be able to prepare their case without any sort of problem with publicity,” the Associated Press reported.
The order will remain in effect until a preliminary hearing to dismiss or reduce the charges on July 29, at which time DeLeon said he would revisit the decision.
“I have the case now, so I don’t want to have any unnecessary information when I read the newspaper on a daily basis that might taint my decision-making,” DeLeon later told WCAU-TV, a Philadelphia-based station.
A reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer protested the gag order, arguing that it was issued without an opportunity to appeal, but DeLeon denied any request for such action.
Police charged Iverson, a 27-year-old guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, and his uncle, Greg, with as many as 14 felony and misdemeanor charges, including assault and weapons charges. Iverson allegedly stormed into a cousin’s apartment in search of his wife, Tawanna, at 3 a.m. on July 3. He allegedly possessed a semiautomatic handgun, showed off the gun and made threats to two men, saying “either I’m going to die or I’m going to jail and I guarantee you I’m not going to die,” the complaint reported.
Iverson, originally from Hampton, Va., has already had several brushes with the law. After a governor’s pardon from an arrest from a “maiming by mob” charge in 1993, Iverson pleaded “no contest” to a gun possession charge in 1997.
Iverson did not attend the scheduling hearing, and his lawyer, Richard Sprague, would only comment that his client would plead innocent.
© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press