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Judge in Quattrone case refuses to withdraw prior restraint order

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Judge in Quattrone case refuses to withdraw prior restraint order

  • In response to a motion by a coalition of media companies, federal district court Judge Richard Owen refused to withdraw an order preventing the press from publishing the names of prospective or sitting jurors in the retrial of Frank Quattrone.

April 16, 2004 — Judge Richard Owen of U.S. District Court in New York City refused to withdraw his prior restraint order against the news media in the retrial of former investment banker Frank Quattrone.

Owen issued the order on Tuesday, the first day of jury selection in the obstruction case, prohibiting the media from publishing the names of prospective or sitting jurors. Responding to a motion submitted by a coalition of media groups on Wednesday, Owen cited the publication of a juror’s name during deliberations in the recent mistrial of two former executives of Tyco International. That trial was also held in New York City.

David Schulz, an attorney for The Associated Press who is representing the media coalition, argued that it is unconstitutional to “instruct the press what they can do or not do absent some compelling circumstance,” according to media reports of a transcript from the hearing.

Owen, however, was unconvinced.

“A six-month trial was absolutely blown to smithereens because reporters put the names out,” Owen said in reaffirming his order late Wednesday.

“I don’t see that in an effort here to get this trial off the ground and . . . avoid threats or tampering or whatever, that this wasn’t a perfectly reasonable way to handle it under all of the circumstances that exist today, April 14, 2004, in the City of New York,” he said.

The identified juror in the Tyco trial, Ruth Jordan, indicated in subsequent media interviews that she would have caused a hung jury anyway by refusing to vote to convict the defendants on any charge. “At best it was going to be a hung jury,” she told The New York Times .

The media can publish jurors’ names at the conclusion of the trial, Owen added.

Schulz says the coalition is currently considering its legal options.

(U.S. v. Quattrone; Media Counsel: David Schulz, Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schulz, New York City) JL

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