LOS ANGELES -- Accusing prosecutors of ''blatant hypocrisy,'' defense attorneys for 1970s bomb plot suspect Sara Jane Olson are asking a Superior Court judge to fine District Attorney Gil Garcetti and key witness Patty Hearst Shaw for violating a gag order.
In court papers filed Friday, Olson's attorneys point out the irony that prosecutors initially had requested the gag order while the defense objected to it.
The defense is asking Superior Court Judge James M. Ideman to hold Garcetti and Hearst in criminal contempt of court and impose sanctions. Attorneys J. Tony Serra and Shawn S. Chapman also ask the judge to find Garcetti, Hearst, lead prosecutor Michael Latin and police witness James Bryan in civil contempt.
District attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons declined comment, citing the gag order.
But the defense paints a cynical scenario, suggesting in court papers that prosecutors, having succeeded in silencing Olson and her defense team, then attempted to manipulate public opinion.
Once the gag order was secured, court papers say, Garcetti and two key prosecution witnesses ''publicly attacked'' Olson in the national media. The defense charges that the trial prosecutor, Michael Latin, ''apparently'' facilitated the alleged violations.
In their motion, Serra and Chapman document the prosecution's alleged violations. If found in contempt, Garcetti and Hearst face fines up to $2,500 each, while the others face $1,500 fines. The potential fines for Garcetti and Hearst are higher because they face both civil and criminal contempt allegations.
A hearing scheduled on Monday has been postponed to give prosecutors time to respond. But legal observers said Friday that Ideman is more likely to drop or dilute his gag order than to try to enforce it.
Olson, a 53-year-old Minnesota housewife, is accused of conspiring with members of the radical Symbionese Liberation Army to kill police officers by planting pipe bombs under squad cars in August 1975. She is free on $1 million bail, awaiting trial in January.
Both Garcetti and Hearst, who was kidnapped by the SLA, recently have talked publicly about the case, despite Ideman's blanket order Jan. 10 silencing the defendant, lawyers and witnesses. The order was tightened on April 11.
Hearst spoke with a writer from Talk magazine some time in February, deliberately violating the gag order, the defense alleges. Court papers cite this sentence as evidence of Hearst's deliberate defiance: '' 'I'm fed up to the eyeballs now,' says Hearst, despite the gag order Ideman imposed on everyone connected to the ... trial.''
The defense asserts: ''Hearst should be ordered by this court to present herself for testimony regarding her illegal tantrum.''
Latin maintains that he sent Hearst a letter in February advising her of the gag order. But, court papers indicate, the letter wasn't sent until after the prosecutor learned of the Talk interview.
Latin has insisted that the magazine writer ''made up'' the section about Hearst deliberately defying the order.
Garcetti, meanwhile, gave an interview in April to National Public Radio's local affiliate during which he discussed the Olson case. He later informed Ideman by letter that he ''may have inadvertently violated'' the order.
During the interview, Garcetti said he personally believed Olson was guilty and that his office could prove it. He also discussed what punishment she might deserve.
''Garcetti's use of public radio to poison the well of public opinion and foster the fantasy that the prosecution in this case has the higher moral ground falls far short of the ethical standards expected of those who hold the privilege and responsibility of being prosecutors,'' the defense argued, urging Ideman to impose maximum sanctions against Garcetti.
The defense also is seeking sanctions against former Los Angeles Police Department officer Bryan, who recently filed a civil assault suit against Olson. The court papers charge that Latin discussed the suit with Bryan's civil attorney, Bradley C. Gage, before it was filed.
The court papers quote Gage as saying during an earlier hearing that ''if O.J. could be found not guilty in criminal court but still be successfully sued for money in civil court based upon the same acts, why shouldn't James Bryan take a stab at Ms. Olson in civil court?''
Bryan, after 25 years of silence, has placed Olson at crime scene, a Hollywood pancake house. The bomb did not detonate. Still, Bryan claims he was so traumatized that he could never again enter a police car and had to resign.
Gage declined comment, citing the gag order.
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