Tuesday, November 11, 2008

AUSTRALIA - The sex offenders’ challenge



11/11/2008

My guess last post was right. (Of course, presumably the whole legal community knew this, but not me.) It’s on!:

Two convicted sex offenders are invoking Victoria’s human rights charter to appeal against being given an extended supervision order in what is a legal first.


One of the applicants is a child sex offender jailed for more than 10 years for his crimes. The man, whose name is suppressed, was convicted for sex crimes against his teenage daughter, another teenage girl and his adult partner. He was given a 10-year extended supervision order when he finished his jail term after a County Court judge found a “high degree of probability” he was likely to further offend. However, his lawyer Graham Thomas SC told a Court of Appeal hearing today his client was not a high-risk child sex offender and therefore not eligible to to be subject to the order.


Mr Thomas also said the sentencing judge had indicated she did not believe the man was suitable for an order but later changed her position. But counsel representing the secretary to the Department of Justice, David Grace QC, said the man’s crimes were premeditated and opportunistic. Mr Grace said the sentencing judge included in her reasons the fact the man had shown a lack of insight into his behaviour by denying his wrongdoing. He said the man jumped bail on the day he was due to attend his court hearing on his application for an extended supervision order and had refused to take part in a sex offenders program, despite being offered many times. Mr Grace said the man continued to “thumb his nose up at authority” and suggested he tried to create relationships with females with children while he was in jail so he could groom them for sexual offending.


The second sex offender is appealing an eight-year extended supervision order imposed on him by the County Court on the basis it is too long. The man, whose name is also suppressed, was jailed for more than a year for indecent assault and will also use the charter to argue his case.


Victoria became the first Australian state to implement a Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities on January 1 and it is the first time it will be considered by Victoria’s appeal court. The hearing before Justices Geoffrey Nettle, President Chris Maxwell and Mark Weinberg continues tomorrow.

Um, it’s actually the sixth time the Charter will be ‘considered’ by Victoria’s appeal court. The appeal court cited the Charter once in 2006 and four times again this year, including in its appalling Underbelly decision. Here’s hoping, though, that this will be the first time the Court actually does the Charter justice, in analysis if not in the final result. Interestingly, all three judges in this hearing are Charter virgins. The case, argued today, is listed for a second day of argument tomorrow.

But what is being argued? The article is tantalisingly vague. I can see three types of rights arguments could be made about extended supervision orders (ESOs):

First, Liberty, etc: ESOs, by their nature, limit a huge number of rights, i.e. non-consensual medical treatment, movement, privacy, conscience, expression, association and liberty. Either by reference to internal limits or Charter s. 7(2), the issue with ESOs is whether they are rasonable limits (i.e. lawful, non-arbitrary, proportionate, minimalist.) Getting down to the nitty-gritty, if the article is correct that the second offender faces an eight-year ESO after an offence that got him only one year in prison, then that’s certainly going to raise Charter eyebrows about the proportion point.

Such arguments could be used to question the interpretation the Court of Appeal gave to the Serious Sex Offenders Monitoring Act 2005 back in 2006 (in that first ever case where the Charter was mentioned.) The relevant clause is this one:

11(1) A court may only make an extended supervision order in respect of an offender if it is satisfied, to a high degree of probability, that the offender is likely to commit a relevant offence if released in the community on completion of the service of any custodial sentence that he or she is serving, or was serving at the time at which the application was made, and not made subject to an extended supervision order.

As I noted in this post, the Court of Appeal back then considered two possible interpretations for ‘likely’: ‘being reasonably sure’ or a ‘high degree of probability’. It opted for the latter harder-to-establish standard, citing the Charter as evidence of what sort of society Victoria is. Interestingly, when the NSW Court of Appeal, in Tilman v AG (NSW) [2007] NSWCA 327, considered the same wording in its legislation (which authorises detention, not just ’supervision’), it said that it would have interpreted ‘likely’ as meaning ‘more probable than not’, a still tougher standard, but followed the Victorian court in the name of ‘comity’.

So, the question now is whether the Court of Appeal, applying the Charter for real this time, should switch to the tougher standard favoured (but not followed) by the NSW court, on the ground that that’s the minimum intereference. Such a re-interpretation would not be permissible if it was inconsistent with the SSOMA’s purpose. Arguably, limiting ESOs to offenders who are more likely than not to re-offend is contrary to the SSOMA’s protective purpose. If re-interpretation is on the cards, then I’m a bit surprised that there’s only a three-judge bench hearing this matter, as I thought the VCA’s tradition was to only overrule itself with a five-judge bench. Maybe the Charter changes the rules? If re-interpretation isn’t possible, then a declaration of inconsistent interpretation is the next possibility, but alternatively the VCA could find that the existing interpretation is a reasonabe limit.

Second, Retrospectivity / double jeopardy: SARC raised a retrospectivity issue in relation to this year’s extension to the ESO scheme, but that doesn’t seem to be at issue here (at least with the first offender, who is a child sex offender on a non-interim order, and therefore covered by the original scheme.) But he, at least, could raise a retrospectivity argument about the original SSOMA, which was applicable to people sentenced (but not released) before it was enacted. This argument turns on a technical issue of whether or not ESOs are ‘penalties’/'punishments’ or not. The offenders will be able to cite a New Zealand Court of Appeal decision, Belcher v Department of Corrections [2006] NZCA 262, that ruled that a very similar scheme was a penalty/punishment for the purposes of the NZBoRA.

The government will has four possile responses: (a) an argument that the NZCA was just wrong or can be distinguished; (b) a technical argument that the NZCA decision was kinda sorta ultra vires, according to the NZSC; (c) an argument that US and UK judgments on quite different schemes, or Australian HCA dicta on Chapter 3, should be preferred to the NZCA decision; or (d) retrospectivity, schmetrospecitivity! It’s all reasonable as a way of keeping the community safe. The fourth argument is the only particularly sound one and none of them is overwhelming.

But the bad news for the offenders is that there isn’t much in it for them in making this argument. It’s not clear to me how it will help out on the interpretation question of whether they should get ESOs. So, all they’ll get is bragging rights over in Ararat for being the first Victorians to get themselves a declaration of inconsistent interpretation (assuming they beat Hinch to the punch.) Call me crazy, but I can’t see Parliament responding by repealing the SSOMA or making it prospective only. But it’ll certainly set the cat among the pigeons.

Third, Self-incrimination: The bit about the judge giving the first offender an ESO in part because he showed lack of insight by ‘denying his own wrongdoing’ could raise an argument about this Charter right:

25(2) A person charged with a criminal offence is entitled without discrimination to the following minimum guarantees-… (k) not to be compelled to testify against himself or herself or to confess guilt.

This issue raises a real and very difficult clash between pragmatism and principle. Pragmatism suggests that an offender’s acceptance of his wrongdoing is a key to his probability of re-offending. (Well, pop psychology suggests that anyway. And, as I understand things, it’s a precondition for ‘treatment’.) Principle, by contrast, says that this approach will mean that people who continue to insist on their innocence, even after being convicted, will face a tougher punishment (and life) than people who ‘confess guilty’. That’s a tough one.

This broad issue came before the United States Supreme Court in McKune v Lile, 536 US 24 (2002), which also involved the consequences of a sex offender not confessing guilt. Lile, who was convicted of rape of a school girl but maintained at trial and afterwards that the sex was consensual. He refused to participate in a treatment program because it required him to submit to confess all of his offences under a lie detector. Any confession could be used against him, e.g. to charge him with perjury in his original trial. (That wouldn’t be possible here.) Non-participation meant that he was transferred to a higher security prison (to make room for other participants) but had no other consequences. The Supreme Court upheld this scheme in a (then) typical 5-4 split. O’Connor, as the swing, limited her concurrance to the fact that the ‘coercion’ was pretty minor and no different to other disciplinary aspects of prison life. Clearly, she wouldn’t say the same about the SSOMA, which operates after the sentence is completed. A number of the remaining majority’s arguments are similarly inapplicalbe here. To fight this precedent on its merits, the government would have to focus on the final two of the five reasons given by the plurality: that ‘hard choices’ aren’t always coercion; and that a bar on rewarding acceptance of guilt would be contrary to sentencing principle. Interestingly, just last week, the High Court endorsed the idea that lack of acknowledge of guilt can aggravate a sentence in Australia.

Alternatively, the government could - and probably would - fight this argument on a technicality: that Charter s. 25(2)(k) is limited to ‘criminal proceedings’ and that SSOMA hearings are civil or adminstrative or something. So, self-incrimination is quite OK. This is, of course, the unfortunate consequence of the view that Hollingworth J leant towards in Sabet, albeit there she was construing the presumption of innocence and she completely missed the significance of self-incrimination at the end of the list. Perhaps, this will be a chance for the Court of Appeal to put the kybosh on all of that. Failing that, there’s Charter s. 24 too, though the government might try to argue that SSOMA hearings are neither civil nor criminal but some mysterious other, fair-hearing-free, category.

The self-incrimination argument, if its gets up, could be used to re-interpret this SSOMA provision:

11(3) In determining whether the offender is likely to commit a relevant offence in the circumstances described in subsection (1), the court must, subject to subsection (5), have regard to- (a) any assessment report filed in court, whether by or on behalf of the Secretary or the offender; and (b) any other report made, or evidence given, by a medical expert- and may have regard to anything else that it considers appropriate.

The argument would be that it’s not appropriate to consider things in a way that would limit a Charter right. Hmmmm. Failing that, it’s time for Charter s7(2) and, maybe, Charter s. 36!

All up, quite an exciting set of arguments! Let’s hope someone puts them to the Court. And that the Attorney-General and VEOHRC show up to make sure that the Court of Appeal is well versed on cases like Tilman, Belcher and McKune. This would be a bad time for shoddy comparative law and statutory interpretation, wouldn’t it?

Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)


TX - Teen sex outlawed?

Texas Voices Web Site


IN - Indiana seeks input on stopping sexual violence

View the article here

11/11/2008

Indianapolis - Losing a job and other economic uncertainties carry an added threat besides finding ways to pay the rent or grocery bills.

For some women, and a few men, the pressure also raises the threat of rape and other sexual violence, experts said as the state prepared this week to hold 10 regional forums aimed at uncovering the social attitudes and other factors that contribute to sexual violence and finding ways to prevent it.

"In crisis and economic uncertainty, sexual violence tends to increase," said Abigail Kelly-Smith, director of the Rape Prevention and Education Program at the Indiana State Department of Health.

People left desperate or feeling powerless from the loss of a job, a natural disaster or another situation beyond their control at times try to feel powerful in other ways, Kelly-Smith said Monday.
- And yet they continue to pass sex offender laws, which causes sex offenders to lose their jobs, lose their homes, have to move on a daily basis, cannot find a new job or home, harassed by the police, neighbors and others.  And they want to know how to stop some sexual abuse?  Well, I think you should look at these sex offender laws as a starter!  You can kick someone so many times, before they lash out, and fight back.

"In crisis situations, there are many things that cause people to do things that they might not do otherwise. Circumstances outside people's control can really affect what they do," she said.
- Tell that to all the people passing these draconian, unconstitutional sex offender laws.

Such crises contribute to nearly one in five Indiana women experiencing some type of sexual assault in her lifetime, and one in eight reporting having been raped, according to a survey last year for the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The forums, which begin Wednesday in Fort Wayne and continue through the first week of December, are aimed at bringing together parents, educators, faith leaders, medical professionals, attorneys and others to identify local factors that contribute to sexual assaults and find ways to mitigate them. Information gathered at the forums should result in a statewide strategy by this time next year, Kelly-Smith said.

Anita Carpenter, chief executive of the coalition, said sexual violence includes obscene jokes, bullying and dating violence.

"It's a full continuum of a crime. We're seeing it our schools," Carpenter said.

Changing attitudes toward sexual violence - and placing the blame with perpetrators rather than victims - takes years, if not generations, said Joan Knies, a community education specialist with Crisis Connection Inc., a program helping victims of sexual and domestic violence in five southern Indiana counties.

That's one reason why her group works with schools, teaching the youngest students not to bully others and older ones to form healthy relationships with the opposite sex that steer people away from the risk of sexual violence, Knies said.

"It takes time. You're changing a social norm," Knies said.

Getting men involved in dialogues on sexual violence such as the forums is critical to changing those social attitudes, Knies and Kelly-Smith said.

Already, men's groups on college campuses such as DePauw University in Greencastle and the University of Notre Dame in South Bend are promoting gender equity, peer education and other activities in which men work actively against sexual violence.

For men already in the work force and running their own businesses, the best strategy might be showing them the costs of sexual violence and the risks to their daughters and other family members.

One state, Minnesota, has calculated sexual violence carries an annual pricetag of $8 billion in medical and mental health care, lost work and productivity, criminal justice and other costs, Kelly-Smith said.


CA - Salem High sex photos spurs meeting

View the article here

11/11/2008

SALEM - Obscene photos of underage students circulated at Salem High School last week, but a meeting for parents last night focused on keeping their children safe in a high-tech world.

The sexually explicit photos were sent by students via cell phone before one brought it to the attention of an administrator Wednesday. At least one girl pictured was under 16.

Rockingham County Attorney James Reams spoke to students and parents about child pornography and the consequences of distributing such images, either by cell phone or the Internet.

Reams told them that if these images were posted on the Internet, pedophiles would have access to them. He then told them stories about pedophiles and the crimes they committed.

At least one parent was upset last night that the school district chose to hold the informational meeting and a school assembly where students were told about child pornography. This leads to more rumors than facts, Carol Buckley said.

She said when her son came home, he spoke of a 40-year-old man getting two 15-year-old girls drunk and taking pictures of them -- one of the stories Reams told students involving teens from another town.

There are no adults involved in the Salem High case, said Principal William Hagen. He said the intent was to let students know that what they had on their phones was pornography.

School Resource Officer Matt Norcross said from conversations he had with students, it was clear they were not aware of the seriousness of the matter. "The kids downplayed it," he said. "They said, 'It's no big deal -- I know that girl.'"

Three or four different pictures were passed around and at least four students still had them on their phones when they talked with police or school administrators, Reams said.

But the county attorney said he is sure the images were sent to many more phones, possibly by using a "reply to all" feature.

"What we know is just the tip of the iceberg," Reams said. Charges won't necessarily be filed against the students because it was "a school situation" and did not involve a sexual predator, he said.
- Well, creating and distributing child porn, is just that, and it's illegal, it doesn't matter if it's a sexual predator or not.  The law is the law.  You make it sound like it's ok for some to publish child porn, but not others.  It's wrong, period!

"We're not real concerned about (these girls) having been victims," Reams said. "We're not 100 percent sure (they were victims) because there are still pieces of the investigation that are ongoing. But our level of concern has dropped a bit as the investigation has gone on."

About 100 parents attended the meeting. Approximately 2,300 students go to Salem High.

Parent Liz Getchell said when her son was in third grade -- he's now a senior -- they found him looking at a pornography site at home. The link was sent around the High School and Boys & Girls Club. A meeting similar to last night's was held, but just three people attended.
- So where did a third grader learn to look at porn?

"I feel better after tonight, but I don't think a lot of parents get it," she said. "My heart goes out to these girls and their parents."

Getchell uses a computer program that lets her see everything her sons do on the computer, including their instant messenger conversations.

Many of the parents who attended last night said they carefully monitor their children's use of the Internet.

Sharon Riley said her daughter, a freshman, thinks she is crazy because she doesn't let her use MySpace or Facebook, and checks her cell phone. But the parents gave Riley a round of applause when she told her story.

Tina Doherty said meetings like last night's are "eye-openers" about what could happen to her daughter, also a freshman, and her seventh-grade son. But she likes going to them and using the information as a tool to talk to them at home.

"They're naive to think nothing can happen," she said. "That won't do them any good."


GA - Update on Hearing this Week

Friends,

We hope this finds you well. We have received many emails from you requesting information about the hearing this week and wanted to provide some information to this extent.

The Court scheduled a hearing for November 13 to hear arguments, primarily on two limited issues: the Plaintiffs' preliminary injunction to prevent the State from criminalizing protected religious activity and the preliminary injunction to keep our first named plaintiff, Wendy Whitaker, from being evicted from her home. At this hearing, we may also discuss scheduling matters (such as the setting of a trial date) and will ask the Court to address the merits of the case as soon as possible. The full Order that scheduled the hearing can be viewed here: Judge Cooper's Order.

As always, we will be sure to keep you updated as any new developments arise and as we prepare for the hearing. We know that the outcome of this hearing is of great importance to you and your families. That said, we would ask if you would allow us to report back to you about the hearing, rather than attending it in person.

Finally, we are receiving many telephone calls and emails each week from persons asking for news about the case. Please be assured that we always post any new information about the case on our listserv as soon as we receive it. If we have not posted new information, it means that we do not have anything new to report.

All the best,

Sara, Sarah, Lisa, Gerry, James and Mica

Sara J. Totonchi
Public Policy Director
Law Offices of the Southern Center for Human Rights
83 Poplar Street, N.W.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404/688-1202 voice
404/688-9440 fax
stotonchi@schr.org


OH - Village of Waterville halts sex-offender proposal

View the article here

This is unusual, but I applaud the people for complaining against the draconian laws!

11/11/2008

By CARL RYAN - BLADE STAFF WRITER

Residents pack meeting

Responding to a tidal wave of complaints from citizens, Waterville Village Council voted 6-1 last night against adopting an ordinance that would restrict where registered sex offenders could live in the village.

Mayor Derek Merrin (Email), who has been pushing for adoption of the measure, cast the sole affirmative vote. Under Waterville's system, the mayor votes with council.

Council voted after listening to scores of residents condemn the proposal. Only a few supported it. Opponents packed the council chamber to more than its capacity. They stood, sat on the floor, and lined up outside in the chilly temperatures.

The ordinance, if enacted, would have barred sex offenders from living in large parts of Waterville within 1,000 feet of day-care centers and parks. It could not be applied retroactively to current residents.

The proposed legislation has been on council's agenda since August, but only recently came to the attention of residents of neighborhoods in central Waterville not in restricted areas.

They were alerted by activists who went door to door with literature and urged them to attend the council meeting.

Those were the opponents of the measure who showed up in force last night.

They complained that the ordinance would make their streets attractive to sex offenders, causing property values to drop and endangering their family members.

The main residential area where sex offenders could live under the ordinance included all or part of Freedom Lane, Mattatuck Way, Naugatuck Way, Karis Street, Karyl Court, Cedar Lane, Hickory Lane, Liberty Drive, Cherry Lane, Maple Lane, and Michigan Avenue.

Bill Albert of Maple was one of the neighborhood activists.

"The proposal does nothing to protect innocents from transient sex offenders. This is the most contentious matter I have heard of in my 27 years in Waterville," he told council members.

Peg Ryan, also of Maple, said: "I fear for the value and marketability of my house, which is smack dab in the unrestricted area."

Fred Anderson of Cherry estimated 400 homes and 400 children living in the nonrestricted area potentially would be put at risk by the proposed ordinance.

"It doesn't make sense to leave this area open that is heavily populated with children," he said.

Mr. Anderson said the measure would hurt small businesses in the area because parents would not permit their children to walk through it.

There is one registered sex offender living in Waterville, according to the Web site of the Lucas County Sheriff's Office.

He offended many years ago and has not re-offended, according to Waterville police.

Councilman John Gouttiere said the ordinance would "focus sex offenders in one place in the community for greater concentration."

Councilman Jeff Marty, who, as a member of the village's public safety committee, last week recommended adoption of the ordinance, acknowledged last night that the committee "did not do as good a job as perhaps we could have."

Mr. Merrin defended the ordinance, saying its restrictions were meant to protect the public by keeping sex offenders out of Waterville. To hoots from the crowd, he said that communities that had adopted similar ordinances had not experienced a decline in property values.

Contact Carl Ryan at: carlryan@theblade.com or 419-206-0356.


MS - Mayor, ex-guard ask for trial delay

View the article here

11/11/2008

By Chris Joyner - chris.joyner@jackson.gannett.com

Judge to rule today

Attorneys for Jackson Mayor Frank Melton and his former police bodyguard, Michael Recio, pleaded Monday for another two weeks to read thousands of pages of evidence federal prosecutors provided last week.

"They've had going on two years to develop their case. We've had since Thursday," said John Reeves, Melton's attorney.

Melton and Recio are facing a three-count indictment charging them with violating the constitutional prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure in an Aug. 26, 2006, police-style raid on a Ridgeway Street duplex in northwest Jackson. According to prosecutors, Melton instructed several young men to attack the house with sledgehammers and participated in the destruction himself, while Recio and fellow bodyguard Marcus Wright stood guard.

The trial is slated to begin Wednesday with jury selection.

U.S. District Court Judge Dan Jordan will rule this morning on whether to grant the continuance request. If granted, a continuance likely would mean putting the case off until after Thanksgiving. Jordan said he already was concerned the case would bridge the holiday weekend, meaning he would have to send jurors home for four days where they could be influenced by family members or news coverage of the trial.

Reeves and Recio's attorney, Cynthia Stewart, complained that prosecutors dumped on them thousands of pages of grand jury testimony, Jackson Police Department Internal Affairs files and FBI investigative documents last week.

"It's the guts of the case," Reeves said.

Stewart said reading those documents between now and Wednesday is "simply not humanly possible."

U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor Mark Blumberg said the defense was overstating the case. The evidence had been turned over in advance of a court deadline and given to Reeves and Stewart by e-mail as well as on DVD and CD.

While defense attorneys complained about 7,000 pages of evidence, Blumberg said the actual count of recently released pages is 3,792 - 1,700 pages of which is a single internal affairs file.

Jordan also will rule today on whether Melton and Recio can use evidence of past drug use at the Ridgeway Street duplex as part of their defense. Reeves said it is crucial for Melton to be able to show why he went to the house.

"It will be impossible for us to defend this case if we can't do this," he said.

Without explicitly saying what he did, Melton has long defended his actions that night on the grounds that the house was a "crack house" and he was acting as the chief law enforcement officer of the city.

But Jordan signaled his intention early to keep arguments focused on the constitutional questions at hand.

"I'm not persuaded by that argument. Being commander in chief of the United States doesn't allow you to violate the Fourth Amendment," Jordan said. "Whether this is the worst crack house on the planet or whether there was one drug deal going on, you still have to follow the same Fourth Amendment requirements."

Reeves said the prosecution must show Melton's "evil motive" to convict him of acting unreasonably.

"The police kick doors in all the time; they beat people up. Government get sued for that all the time," he said. "But nobody gets prosecuted for it, because they have to show evil motive."

Reeves said "90 percent of Jacksonians" believe drugs are a problem in the city, but Jordan dismissed the statement as beside the point.

"Whether or not people want a public official to violate somebody else's Fourth Amendment rights is irrelevant," he said.

Blumberg said Reeves has made no legal argument to include any evidence of the house's reputation prior to the night of the raid.

"Mr. Reeves' argument is a 'We'd really like to have it in' defense," he said.

Jordan asked Blumberg how he will explain Melton and Recio's presence at the house if he does not allow any of the drug evidence.

"Are you going to try to show it was just a whim?" he asked. "Doesn't that, in some sense, mislead the jury?"

That Melton went to the house is not a crime, Blumberg said. It is what he did while there that violated the Constitution, he said.

If Jordan rules in the defense's favor on either motion, it will be the first good news for Melton and Recio.

Jordan turned back a motion for dismissal based on claims by the defense team that prosecutors had withheld information about an internal affairs investigation of Wright in 2006. Wright initially was indicted along with Melton and Recio but last month pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and agreed to testify.

The motion relies on the at-times confusing testimony of a gay, male prostitute named Torey Smith, who told internal affairs investigators he saw two male prostitutes get into Wright's car sometime in 2005 and that they later claimed to have had sex with the officer for money. The motion alleges the FBI interviewed Smith two weeks to one month ago but did not reveal that to Melton and Recio's attorneys, as required.

On Friday, Smith gave a statement to Melton's attorney from the Leake County jail, where he is being held on a shoplifting charge, saying he contacted Wright after the FBI interviewed him. But that statement appears to undercut the defense's claim the information was used to force Wright to plead guilty. Smith said Wright told him he already had pleaded guilty and asked him not to talk to authorities.

The motion does not explain why Wright would ask Smith not to tell the FBI about the alleged encounter if it already had been used to force Wright's plea. On Monday, Stewart said she obtained her own statement from Smith, and he said he called Wright before he pleaded guilty.

Blumberg called the motion a "shocking" attempt to smear Wright. "This is without a doubt one of the most irresponsible pleadings I have ever seen in my career," he said.

Prosecutors filed their own motion seeking sanctions against Reeves and Stewart, accusing them of unprofessional conduct and an alleged attempt to taint potential jurors by releasing "inflammatory and unconfirmed allegations against a government witness." The motion also suggests Reeves and Stewart may have violated Jordan's order not to talk to the media, noting that metro-area television aired stories about the motion minutes after it was filed.

Jordan overruled the motion and said he would wait until the end of the trial to take up any possible punishments for attorneys on either side. Reeves and Stewart have asked for sanctions against prosecutors for allegedly withholding documents, a charge Blumberg denies.

Jordan also denied a motion to grant Recio a separate trial.