Monday, July 09, 2007

Yes Your Honor

As readers first learned on Sunday, The Shark Attacks segment was going to be curtailed so as to not be too specific or as spicy as it had been since the start of the Family Secrets Mob Trial. The reason is that the author of those posts, Joseph Lopez, who represents Frank Calabrese Sr. in court, had been ordered by Judge Zagel to temper his comments. It is my understanding that the government had made that request to the judge in closed chambers last week. Although, I give them an open invitation to share with me their observations on the proceedings as well. Who knew that anybody even read this site? ;-)

Since that post on Sunday, I have had a handful of attorneys contact me to express their concern on the ruling as matter of First Amendment rights. A few sites that they shared with me that I will pass along include the First Amendment Center and a trial transcript regarding a case in which the judge had a similar reaction. As long time readers will know, if you have something to share, I am glad to pass it along to all of the readers that stop by here. In fact, the majority of my links are ones suggested to me by those in law enforcement and the media.

In terms of coverage of the trial, when I spoke with Shark over the weekend, we have both been impressed with in depth reporting from The Tribune and the Sun Times. In particular, Jeff Coen and Steve Warmbir. If you have been visiting my site for anytime, you will know that I have been a fan of both men for a while. Personally, I also love that Steve has even created a blog himself that has an abundance of additional information that does not make into the regular newspaper. It is an excellent marriage of using the new media to support and expand upon the established media. There is no doubt that we are in good hands with both papers to keep us informed all summer long. If my schedule permits, I hope to even attend the trial one day myself to give a first hand account.

Has "The Shark" had his teeth pulled?

The federal judge presiding over the Family Secrets mob case in Chicago has privately told Joseph "The Shark" Lopez -- the defense lawyer for reputed Outfit hit man Frank Calabrese Sr. -- to stop allowing his critiques of the trial to be posted on an Internet blog.

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.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel was not amused and ordered Lopez to stop e-mailing his entries to the blog, chicagosyndicate.blogspot.com. The judge recently took the action behind closed doors, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Friday, Lopez, among the more media-friendly lawyers in the case, took the uncharacteristic step of having no comment. "I can't talk about it because it's under seal," Lopez said.

In general, attorneys are prohibited during trial from making statements outside of court that could have a prejudicial effect on the case.

Last Tuesday, Lopez went to great lengths -- before telling the news media about his client's reaction to the day's testimony -- to say he would not comment on specific witnesses. Not that Lopez's short-lived blog had only negative things to say.

Lopez noted the judge was "doing an excellent job of moving [the] trial along at a good pace."

He gave kudos to one of the prosecutors on the government team, noting tangentially, "he is quite a sailor." He criticized another as "monotone and dry with no emotion."

And Lopez was kind to a fellow defense attorney, Rick Halprin, who represents reputed top mobster Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo. In one cross-examination, "Halprin was great as usual," Lopez wrote.

When asked about the compliment on the blog, Halprin said, "While I agreed with the sentiment, it's still inappropriate."

"The only opinion that counts is the jury's," Halprin said. Thanks to Steve Warmbir

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