By Steve Pope | September 20, 2018
The judge assigned to oversee the homicide trial of the police officer accused in the shooting death of Antwon Rose quickly issued a gag order the same day he received the case.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Alexander P. Bicket issued the order at 3:16 p.m. Wednesday, just hours after he was assigned the case, because Judge Anthony Mariani recused himself from hearing the case during a brief hearing earlier that morning, to avoid an appearance of impropriety.
The order comes in response to a motion filed by Allegheny County Chief Trial Deputy, Daniel Fitzsimmons requesting that such an order be entered in the case. The motion alleges that defense attorney Patrick Thomassey made statements to the media that “would tend to prejudice the trial process.”
In his reply, Mr. Thomassey said that the statements he made were simply a repeat of the statements he made the same day during a court proceeding. He also alleged that the statements made by District Attorney Stephen Zappala during a June 27 news conference announcing the filing of the homicide charges were improper.
Mr. Thomassey cited a 1992 Ethics Opinion issued by the Pennsylvania Bar Association that says it is improper for a prosecutor to make statements about a pending criminal case or be interviewed by the media, even in a “question and answer format.”
In his reply and also during Wednesday’s court hearing, Mr. Thomassey said he did not object to a “pretrial order limiting publicity.” He requested that all parties and potential witnesses, including family members be included.
Judge Bicket’s order includes parties, potential witnesses and “other persons assisting or associated with the parties.”
Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Feb. 26.
Steve Pope can be contacted at email@example.com