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Judge places partial gag order on participants in Greitens felony trial

Ed Dowd, defense attorney for Gov. Eric Greitens, speaks to reporters outside the Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis. March 26, 2018.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Ed Dowd, defense attorney for Gov. Eric Greitens, speaks to reporters on March 26, outside the Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis. After a judge's order on Tuesday, he can't conduct press conferences like this until after a jury is seated.

The judge in Gov. Eric Greitens’ invasion of privacy trial is ordering attorneys, witnesses and parties to stop talking publicly about certain aspects of the case.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner sought and received an order from St. Louis Circuit Judge Burlison on Tuesday that prevents “counsel, the parties, and endorsed witnesses” from “making any public statements outside the courtroom regarding the identity of witnesses and their expected testimony, references to specific evidence to be offered at trial, and any personal belief in the defendant’s guilt or innocence.”

The order does not preclude statements “regarding the general nature of the law and the charge, scheduling information, the substance of court orders or rulings that are public record, and the contents or substance of any motions that are in the public record.” It also bars parties and legal counsel from conducting news conferences until after the jury is seated.

Burlison also ruled that he would have to approve any quotes from depositions from being publicly released in court filings. It comes a day after a defense filing that featured a quote from Greitens’ former lover about seeing a cell phone in a “dream,” which the woman’s attorney says misrepresents what she said in the multi-hour deposition.

It also comes after Greitens’ attorney, Ed Dowd, appeared on several media outlets this weekto discuss his client’s case.

Gardner and Assistant Circuit Attorney Robert Dierker contended during the Tuesday afternoon hearing that Greitens’ attorneys were tainting the jury pool. Dierker added that the “media approach of the defense has reached a pitch.

Among other things, Greitens attorney Jim Martin questioned whether Burlison’s order would prevent the governor from responding to a House committee report that’s set to be released Wednesday. And another one of Greitens’ attorneys, Jack Garvey, said the defense motions served valid purposes.

While calling the House’s decision to release the report before trial “reckless,” Burlison said that he doubted he had any authority to control the General Assembly’s actions. He also said he “takes no position” on whether Greitens can respond to the report.

“I don’t want anything to taint the jury pool,” Burlison said during the hearing. “But I have constraints about power I do have.”

Gardner and an attorney for Greitens' former mistress declined to comment after the hearing, citing Burlison’s order. Dowd issued a statement acknowledging the gag order and alluding to Burlison’s “reckless” comment about the House committee.

One person who did talk to reporters was attorney Mark Sableman, who appeared on behalf of KMOV at Tuesday’s hearing.

“They’re still going to get information, because all the documents are still going to be filed publicly except for attachments,” said Sableman, who also represents St. Louis Public Radio. “They’re not going to get the attorneys in the case talking about the substance of discovery materials. The judge felt that would be too much and that would have a possibility of tainting the jury pool.

“But the public is still going to be able to follow the process, because every motion is still going to be filed,” he added. “Every hearing is still going to be open. So that’s our concern on behalf of the media and KMOV,  to make sure that the public can follow the process.”

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.