Judge Tries To Gag Reporters Covering Court Case, Gets Ignored

from the shut-up,-he-ineffectually-demanded dept

Prior restraint much? (via Jim Romenesko)

Anthony J. Sineni III, 52, of Standish sought to restrict media coverage of the case against him in the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland and persuaded a judge to order the media not to report what he or any witnesses said in court.

Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz, the deputy chief of the state’s district court, told members of the media as the hearing began what they could and could not report.

A reporter for the Portland Press Herald protested the order and asked for time to contact legal counsel. Moskowitz denied the request and said the hearing would proceed without delay, declaring that anyone who did not agree to comply with his order to report only what the prosecutor and Sineni’s attorney said would be ejected from the courtroom.

How a judge arrived at the conclusion that he could violate the First Amendment rights of these reporters is unexplained. (Perhaps he’ll explain it during the special hearing he’s called for Wednesday, involving the paper and its lawyers.) It simply is. Sineni — facing charges related to a domestic violence case — asked and received. Except that his granted request was ultimately futile. The Portland Press Herald seems to have a better grasp on the First Amendment than Judge Moskowitz does.

An attorney for the Portland Press Herald, Sigmund Schutz, said Monday evening that the judge’s order to the media was a clear violation of the public’s First Amendment constitutional right of free speech.

“There is a 100 percent chance that the order is unlawful,” Schutz said. “I think there is no question that the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts have been very clear, what occurs or is said in the court is a matter of public record.”

Sineni, however, appears to believe little things like the First Amendment don’t apply to him or his case. He also seems to feel laws of all types are for other people, according to testimony delivered by his ex-girlfriend (Winona Hichborn) — the same testimony the Press Herald was ordered not to report on.

“Tony (Sineni) told me before that he is above the law and that if he gets away with this they won’t be able to touch him,” Hichborn testified, flanked by her attorney and a victim-witness advocate.

So, it appears Sineni is every bit as wrong as Judge Moskowitz is. Sineni pled no contest but conceded there was enough evidence find him guilty on two of the charges. The law appears to be pulling level with Sineni’s cruising altitude. And the ruling issued by Moskowitz has been treated as though he had never bothered wasting his breath uttering the unlawful order in the first place. Good for the Press Herald, which had the insight and fortitude to call BS and do what it was supposed to be doing in the first place: reporting on events that occurred in a public forum.

And as for Sineni, he has hopefully learned that trying to shut people up only makes them speak more loudly — and that raised voice tends to create plenty of echoes. What would have just been a local interest story is now spreading nationally, and that won’t be doing any favors for Sineni’s reputation — or Judge Moskowitz’s.

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Comments on “Judge Tries To Gag Reporters Covering Court Case, Gets Ignored”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Would be rather curious what his verdict will be considering this blatant violation of constitutional rights

It was this, according to the paper:

Moskowitz sentenced Sineni to what is called a deferred disposition on the assault charge and the disorderly conduct charge. After one year, the disorderly conduct charge could be dismissed if Sineni stays out of trouble. After two years, the assault charge could be dismissed or Sineni could enter another plea to that charge or a lesser charge. The exact language of the sentence was never stated in court, and the written sentencing agreement also has been ordered sealed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Former Client

I was a former client of Sineni. He represented me on criminal charges, gave me very bad advice, and I ended up spending over 12 days in Jail on another charge HE MADE ME DO, and I almost got Federal charges added on to that.

I get screwed, and he gets to play God?? He gets to walk?? He gets to call the shots??? SCREW HIM!!!!

And the Judge, too…who I heard is one of the dumbest judges in the State of Maine, and almost every one of his rulings is appealed. GREAT JUSTICE SYSTEM MAINE HAS!!!!

FM Hilton (profile) says:

This is not rocket science

How the judge got his position, and the defendant got his job (both requiring knowing some of the Constitution) are beyond me.

Good for our local paper. They’re always on the side of freedom of the press, unlike some so-called legal experts.

Both of whom should be removed from the practice of law, forthwith.

However, remember, this is state court, not Federal, where they would not dare to even think of such a stupid bone-ass move.

SDalton says:

Dalton v Dalton

He blocked the public in my case as well!!! Little did I know what I was in for! He blocked witnesses, denied the truth, let the GAL in my case produce what everyone has researched and found to be a completely unfounded report. But in the end, not only did he say everything was done tip top, but the Law Court supported him! It looks worse for the Supremes that placed him in that position than it does for Moskowitz!!!! But this is just another example of his God complex! He does these back door deals and makes up his mind before the evidence is ever heard!

SharonBlanchard (user link) says:

Re: Corrupt Moskowitz

Moskowitz refused me to speak at trial. He was having private meeting with the defendant, my abuser, his lawyer and my lawyer excluding me. He stated he didn’t find my testimony truthful, when I was the only one being truthful. He was involved with a kangaroo trial with my lawyer, the defendant and his lawyer, The judgement already being decided before the trial. Defendant bragging before the trial he wasn’t giving me a settlement. A conflict of interest attorney testified untruthfully and I later learned he became the owner of our marital property Self storage appraised at $3 million previous to testifying. I ended up homeless, indigent at 66 yrs old because I exposed perjury, forgery, bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy to deprive me of my constitutional rights. I was in a domestic violent 29 yr marriage that was kept hushed during our three yr divorce.

Anonymous Coward says:

It looks like two judges are scratching each others back. We started out with one corrupt judge, and ended up with two.

What’s the proper term for when two judges try to cover for each other. It’s called the “blue line” for police because they wear blue uniforms. Judges wear black robes, so I’m going to call it the “black line”.

Rekrul says:

“There is a 100 percent chance that the order is unlawful,” Schutz said. “I think there is no question that the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts have been very clear, what occurs or is said in the court is a matter of public record.”

Is this the same U.S. Supreme Court that bans all recording devices from their proceedings?

Anonymous Coward says:

“That he is above the law”

Now what does he know having fisrt hand experience with that system that makes him say something we strongly suspect is the case in many “laws”……how many tony’s out there at what levels dictating an entire nation…..”legally”

Yeah we so live in the best civilised corruptions, civily……thats what makes it alright for “us”……..apparently


Anonymous Coward says:

it is sad to see how people are so ready to accept whatever dirt is put out there. Buddha says that all judgmentalism is about ego. Sineni was trying to protect his young children from these lies by their mother who is a drug and alcohol abuser and insanely jealous The children who have not been able to see their father whom they adore and who have been dragged all over including a homeless shelter and Sineni’s home from which she stole very valuable property and which she trashed and smeared with dog feces . His children are now severely traumatized. Severely. What part of that do you not understand?!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

even in Shakespeare”s mind and time, although he was no IRATE CITIZEN “The quality of mercy is not strained” The judge was human, Sineni as a father, had he not been this well known lawyer who has done so much “pro bono” work for the “citizens”WOULD HAVE BEEN APPLAUDED just as any father would have been applauded for refusing the further traumatizing of his young children. Perhaps in these “irate citizens'” minds,Putin IS God….

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Did the newspaper really have a right to judge why this happened.

I don’t know what event you’re referring to, but they have a right to make whatever judgments they want.

Or is this called yellow journalism or editorializing or even libel?

The first two are a matter of opinion. I certainly don’t see anything in the article that I would characterize in those ways. As for libel, I can’t even guess what statements from the article you could consider libelous. The article is here:


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