Judge won't lift gag order in BART case

Saturday, February 14, 2009

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(02-13) 17:33 PST OAKLAND --

Attorneys cannot speak to the media about any witnesses or evidence in the case against a former BART police officer charged with murdering an unarmed passenger, a judge ruled today.

Judge Morris Jacobson of Alameda County Superior Court declined to lift a gag order he had imposed on attorneys and investigators, saying he wanted to protect the integrity of the case against Johannes Mehserle.

The judge barred the attorneys from discussing any statements made by Mehserle, 27, and those who saw the Jan. 1 shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station.

Jacobson said he was particularly troubled that the defense had released to the media a copy of its bail motion, which identified civilian and police witnesses in the case. "The defendant is entitled to a trial with untainted witnesses," Jacobson said.

Mehserle is free on $3 million bail.

E-mail Henry K. Lee at hlee@sfchronicle.com.



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