A Maine judge who was criticized by First Amendment experts for restricting media coverage of an attorney's domestic assault case re-opened the proceeding yesterday and admitted he made a mistake, reports the Portland Press Herald. Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz appeared in a courtroom before about 35 people, mostly members of the media and curious lawyers, as he issued an apology. “It's certainly very clear that this particular order was not lawful and I should not have issued it,” Moskowitz said. “That order is now rescinded.”
On Monday, Moskowitz told members of the media that they were forbidden from reporting anything the defendant, attorney Anthony J. Sineni III, said in court or any of the witness testimony. The Press Herald defied the gag order Tuesday, publishing a story about the hearing that included witness testimony. The newspaper's attorney, Sigmund Schutz, said there is a “100 percent chance” that the judge's order was unlawful. Other First Amendment experts agreed. Monday's session was a plea hearing and sentencing, during which Sineni did not admit any wrongdoing but acknowledged there was enough evidence to find him guilty on charges of assault and disorderly conduct.