Strong's attorney requests lifting gag order in prostitution case
Alfred — The gag order prohibiting Thomaston resident Mark W. Strong Sr. and his counsel from speaking with the media is an infringement of the First Amendment, according to Strong's attorney Daniel Lilley.
Lilley filed a motion Feb. 12 for York County Justice Nancy Mills to reconsider the protective order barring communication with the press.
In the motion, Lilley argued lawyers also have protected First Amendment rights "that may only be infringed upon in narrow circumstances."
These instances include if speech "presents a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to the proceedings", the protective order is narrowly tailored, alternatives to the order would prove ineffective, and if the order would be effective in achieving the government's goal.
The potential jury pool in this case are under strict orders not to view or read any media reports pertaining to the case. Lilley said as this order is already in effect, his comments, as well as his client's comments, do not taint or prejudice potential jurors.
Less restrictive measures, such as an additional "more searching" jury selection process, changing the trial's venue, or postponing the trial to quell public interest, were suggested by Lilley.
He further charges the court has not considered if the order will prove effective in obtaining a fair and impartial jury.
Attorneys in Maine must adhere to the condition that if involved in the prosecution or defense of a criminal matter, they cannot make or participate in extra judicial statements that pose a substantial danger of interference with justice. Lilley said such a condition is adequate to control his comments.
Strong, as a private citizen — barring that his comments place his right to a fair trial in "clear and present danger" — should not be prevented from speaking with the press.
According to previously published reports, Mills said she will not restart the jury selection process and that remaining members of the jury pool will remain on call through March 1.
Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext.118 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.