Defense lawyers fighting proposed gag order on Jeremy Johnson

Friend whom prosecutors allegedly threatened to target arrested in drug case

Published: Saturday, March 2 2013 10:55 p.m. MST

In the criminal case, prosecutors asked the court to muzzle Johnson last month. They say has used various media outlets to accuse the government of misdeeds, including his evilFTC.com website, a Facebook page titled "Unofficial Fan Page United States Attorney for the District of Utah," two YouTube videos and statements to the media.

"While (Johnson) has the right to his day in court, he is not entitled to litigate his case in the media (print, broadcast or social) by means of false accusation and innuendo," prosecutors argue.

In its memorandum, the defense lawyers association contends the government failed to demonstrate how Johnson's statements or websites has prejudiced the case.

"To insist on one’s innocence, and to complain when one feels indictment is improper 'may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials,' and the occasionally 'erroneous statement is inevitable,' the memo says citing a U.S. Supreme Court case.

In his own brief, Johnson's court-appointed attorney Ron Yengich contends the government's gag order request is too broad. Any order, he wrote, should be narrowly tailored and only preclude Johnson from making statements that materially influence the proceedings, prevent a fair trial or impede justice.

Johnson also should not be held responsible for what others might post on websites, he said

"It is impossible to control posting on social media, even with a court order," Yengich wrote.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy

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