APS case: Baxter denies DA’s request for gag order
12:10 pm, May 3rd, 2013
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter denied prosecutors’ request for a gag order in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating case Friday, blasting District Attorney Paul Howard and the special investigators he appointed for numerous public statements asserting that former APS Superintendant Beverly Hall and 34 co-defendants had engaged in a massive cheating conspiracy.
“Do ya’ll believe in the concept of presumption of innocence?” Baxter asked Senior Assistant District Attorney Christopher Quinn, who was supporting a motion to bar any attorneys or their clients from discussing the case outside of court.
“These folks have been vilified and tried in the court of public opinion,” said Baxter, “and your office has pretty much led the charge.”
Baxter pointed to an hour-long press conference Howard held when the indictments were announced in March, as well as numerous statements to the press by former Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers, one of Howards’s specially appointed district attorneys, and asked Quinn why his office was suddenly so concerned about anyone making outside comments on the case.
“It may be very difficult, based on what’s gone on, to find a jury that can give these folks the presumption of innocence,” Baxter said.