The defense team for Michael Devlin were delivered a few strong blows in a hearing on pretrial motions held this morning in the Franklin County, Missouri Courthouse. In this criminal case against Michael Devlin and concerning the abduction of Ben Ownby, several motions important to the defense received denials and one was passed by the court to be heard next week.
Associate Judge David Tobben of the 20th Judicial District Circuit Court made the following rulings in today’s hearing:
DENIED: Motion requesting the issuance of a “gag order limited to statements” Susannah Cahalan obtained from Devlin during her two interviews of him in jail.
During a discussion of Cahalan’s “misrepresentation” of herself as a family friend to gain access to Devlin, it was noted that Cahalan did, indeed, identify herself as a NY Post reporter during the second interview. Therefore, Devlin was clearly aware that she was a reporter. Of course, he went ahead with the very first interview by Cahalan, even though he had never seen her before and knew she was not a “friend.” Judge Tobben said that the gag order was unacceptable and would effectively prohibit all news organizations worldwide from publishing any stories that relied upon, in whole or in part, the Cahalan interviews with Devlin as published in the Post.
DENIED: Motion to suppress any “published or unpublished” information gathered by Cahalan and the NY Post.
Attorneys for Cahalan and the Post informed the court that Cahalan had taken no written notes, nor made any recordings during either of her two interviews with Devlin. In fact, it was stated that her story written and published in the Post was done entirely from her own memory of the interviews. Devlin’s defense attorney Michael Kielty claimed during the hearing that some of the details in the Post story were incorrect, although he failed to produce examples of errors to the court. The court did order Cahalan and the Post to preserve any notes written or recorded after her interview, in the event the court should need them later on. Judge Tobben further stated his opinion that any suppression of information by Cahalan or the Post was in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
DENIED: Defense Motion to allow Devlin to appear in court in “plain clothes and free of visible restraints” during future court proceedings.
Judge Tobben stated during the hearing that “we see guys in orange here every Thursday morning and I don’t think it creates any problems.”
DENIED: Defense Motion to request a transcript of all grand jury testimony and proceedings and “all other testimonial proceedings.”. Judge Tobben noted that the Grand Jury is convened by Circuit Judge Gael Wood and any motion to request a transcript must be filed with that court, as Tobben has not authority in that matter.
For sake of understanding, Grand Jury proceedings are not recorded, as a rule, and not even defense counsel are allowed to join their clients during testimony before it. Grand Jury indictments also allow a case to skip preliminary hearings and go straight to trial.
The court also refused to hear the Defense Motion to transfer Devlin from the Franklin County jail to another detention facility in St. Louis County, or to another facility outside Franklin County, and revealed that Devlin’s defense team of Kielty and Ethan Corlija had apparently failed to submit an original of this document to prosecutors for their review prior to today’s hearing. Judge Tobben ordered a new hearing on this motion be scheduled for February 15th to allow the attorneys time to comply with court rules.