Oklahoma Vice: Judge tosses request for gag order in Norman glass pipe case
A judge in Cleveland County has denied the state's efforts to keep parties involved in the ongoing legal saga of Norman Councilman Stephen Tyler Holman and the Friendly Market from talking to the media.
Assistant District Attorney John Pevehouse had sought a gag order after attorneys for the Friendly Market four made remarks about the case to the press and on social media. Cleveland County District Court Judge Tracy Schumacher denied the motion on Thursday.
"Due to the nature of the statements, the State has a growing concern that it may be difficult to obtain a fair and impartial jury," Pevehouse argued in court documents.
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The Friendly Market four, including Holman, Friendly Market owner Robert Cox and two store clerks were charged with drug-related offenses after police seized glass pipes and other merchandise from the now-closed Norman store in 2015. One A jury acquitted one of the clerks in February.
Three remaining defendants face charges ranging from possession of drug paraphernalia — a misdemeanor, to acquiring proceeds from drug activity — a felony.
McAlester Attorney Brecken Wagner posted a lengthy account of one of the men's trials on Facebook earlier this month that included verbatim excerpts of testimony from a police detective, the state's gag order claimed. The Facebook post, as well as remarks attorneys for the defense have made in the media could bias potential jurors, the state argued.
In a recent, lengthy Facebook post, Wagner argued that glass pipes the men were charged with possessing were not in fact drug paraphernalia and can be used to smoke a variety of legal substances.
"Our clients had shown that they had no intention of admitting guilt for something they did not feel was unlawful, and the district attorney’s office showed that they had no qualms spending untold amounts of taxpayer resources to prove their own point," Wagner wrote in the post.
Jury selection in Holman's and Cox's trial is set to begin Monday in Cleveland County District Court.