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Dalia Dippolito asks appellate court to toss judge’s gag order

Calling it a violation of the first amendment, lawyers for Dalia Dippolito are asking an appellate court to throw out a gag order issued by the judge in what will be her third trial this summer on charges she hired a an undercover officer posing as a hitman in a failed attempt to kill her husband.

Lawyers for Dippolito, the former Boynton Beach newlywed whose case has made international headlines, on Monday asked Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal to dismiss Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley’s order restricting out-of-court statements from lawyers on both sides of the case, calling the order overbroad and adding claims that Kelley has not applied the rule evenly.

Earlier this month, Kelley rejected defense attorney Greg Rosenfeld’s request to start criminal contempt proceedings against prosecutors after Rosenfeld argued that they, through Boynton Beach Police, had violated the gag order by keeping up on the Boynton Beach Police YouTube channel of a viral video of Dippolito at what turned out to be a staged crime scene just hours before her 2009 arrest.

Kelley told Rosenfeld at that time that his order applied only to the lawyers in the case, and that Dippolito, her relatives and others could make statements about the case if they wanted.

“The court put Ms. Dippolito in a situation where her only avenue of leveling the playing field involves waiving her constitutional right against self-incrimination, while the State, through its ‘innumerable avenues for the dissemination’ is free to disparage Ms. Dippolito and threaten her right to a fair trial,” Rosenfeld wrote in his motion filed Monday, adding: “The defense attorneys are the only people being muzzled and the only voices being silenced.”

Kelley issued the gag order earlier this year after a request from Assistant State Attorneys Craig Williams and Laura Burkhart Laurie, who also tried to get defense attorney Brian Claypool thrown off the case because of statements he made in press conferences before, during and after Dippolito’s second trial in December.

Although a first jury convicted Dippolito of solicitation to commit first-degree murder in 2011 and a judge sentenced her to 20 years in prison that year, she won a new trial in 2014 after an appellate court overturned the case. Kelley was forced to declare a mistrial in December after a second jury irreparably split 3-3 on whether she was guilty.

Prosecutors said statements from Claypool and Rosenfeld, who among other things accused Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg of pursing a third trial for political reasons and called it a waste of taxpayer money, could potentially taint a third local pool of prospective jurors in the high-profile case.

But in Rosenfeld’s 40-page request to the appellate court, he revisited arguments that he and Claypool have made since last year, including that Boynton Beach Police officials allegedly manufactured the case against Dippolito to spice up an episode of the television show COPS and that former Dippolito prosecutor Elizabeth Parker’s book on the case added to an unfavorable public perception of Dippolito.

Jury selection for Dippolito’s trial is set to begin June 2.

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