WICHITA, Kan. — A federal judge denied the government's efforts to gag defense attorneys, family and supporters of a Kansas doctor accused of unlawfully prescribing medication.
In his July 10 ruling, U.S. District Judge Monti Belot said the government had not shown a compelling government interest in restraining speech. He said an impartial jury could be seated in the case of Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda, by questioning potential jurors about their exposure to pretrial publicity.
"The parties should not misinterpret this ruling as an endorsement of statements to the media by their counsel or their surrogates," the judge wrote. "This court firmly believes that cases should be tried in the courtroom, not on the courthouse steps."
Belot also denied the prosecution's request to order the defense to turn over a recorded statement the doctor made in jail for the Associated Press during an attorney visit. The judge said the matter was moot because defense attorneys contend only AP possessed the recording.
Prosecutors had sought a court order restraining the defendants, their family and Siobhan Reynolds, president of the patient-advocacy group Pain Relief Network, from talking to the news media. The government also sought an order keeping Reynolds and Pat Hatcher, the sister of Linda Schneider, from contacting victims and witnesses.
"We will abide by the court's order," said Jim Cross, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.