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Judge to Mob Trial Lawyer: Chill Blogging

Posted Jul 9, 2007 8:06 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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It isn't just defendants and jurors who have been pushing their luck lately by blogging about their case while it is at trial. An attorney representing an alleged mobster in an ongoing Chicago trial has reportedly been told in chambers by the judge to stop discussing his views of the witnesses on the Internet.

Citing unnamed sources, the Chicago Sun-Times says Joseph "The Shark" Lopez was recently told by U.S. District Judge James Zagel to stop e-mailing his critiques of the case to the Chicago Syndicate blog. However, the blog itself also says that Lopez reports he has been told by Zagel to dial it down. "Local court rules do not allow me to comment on the witnesses in this case. Somehow my first amendment got lost in the fray," a poster identified as "Shark" says in a Sunday report that Zagel told Lopez to "tone down his comments to the media."

Lopez is representing reputed Chicago Outfit hit man Frank Calabrese Sr. in an ongoing trial, which was discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post. "Lopez, among the more colorful defense attorneys at the trial, called a witness in one blog posting " 'boring,' a doofus and—using Italian slang—an ass," the Sun-Times reports.

Zagel isn't the only judge (or juror) who apparently finds blogging about a case that's at trial a bit problematic. A Boston doctor hurriedly settled a medical malpractice case in May after he was outed as an anonymous blogger discussing his own trial. (See earlier ABAJournal.com post.) And an alternate juror in Miami was removed from the panel last month for blogging about the case, as discussed in another ABAJournal.com post.

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