Attorney for Dalia Dippolito seeks to quash gag order

Petition filed with appellate court calls judge's order discriminatory

By Peter Burke - Managing Editor

Dalia Dippolito, along with attorneys Brian Claypool (left) and Greg Rosenfeld (right), walks out of the Palm Beach County courthouse after a mistrial was declared.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - An attorney for a Boynton Beach woman accused of hiring an undercover police officer to kill her husband wants an appellate court to quash a gag order issued by a Palm Beach County judge.

West Palm Beach attorney Greg Rosenfeld on Tuesday filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

Rosenfeld represents Dalia Dippolito, who will stand trial for a third time this summer.

Dippolito, 34, is accused of paying an undercover police officer, who was posing as a hit man, to kill her husband in 2009. Boynton Beach police staged a crime scene and recorded her reaction on the day her husband was supposed to be killed.

Rosenfeld's petition said the gag order issued last month by Judge Glenn Kelley is "designed to prohibit defense counsel from disseminating political speech to the media in this high-profile criminal case."

"The trial court issued the gag order without any evidence of a substantial and imminent threat to a fair trial," Rosenfeld wrote. "In fact, the comments of defense counsel that precipitated the request for the gag order were made four months before the trial date."

Kelley ruled last month that prosecutors and the defense team for Dippolito are prohibited from making "extrajudicial statements" about her murder-for-hire retrial. Kelley's ruling came after prosecutors sought to have one of Dippolito's attorneys removed from the case.

Kelley elected not to strip California attorney Brian Claypool of his "pro hac vice" status, writing that the removal of a client's chosen legal counsel "is a drastic remedy which must be used sparingly."

Claypool, who agreed to represent Dippolito pro bono, is not licensed to practice law in Florida but was granted special permission to appear in court by Kelley, who can revoke the status at any time.

Rosenfeld's motion claims that the gag order is discriminatory and that Kelley "failed to consider less restrictive alternatives."

"As such, the order is a departure from the essential requirements of the law and violates the First Amendment," Rosenfeld wrote.

Dippolito was convicted of solicitation to commit first-degree murder in 2011 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the conviction in 2014.

Prosecutors alleged that Dippolito offered an undercover officer $7,000 to kill her then-husband.

Defense attorneys claimed that the Boynton Beach Police Department wanted to gain attention by soliciting the "Cops" television show and violated Dippolito's constitutional rights by setting her up with the help of former lover Mohamed Shihadeh, who became a confidential informant for police.

Her second trial last year ended in a mistrial, with the jury deadlocked 3-3.

Dippolito's third trial is scheduled to begin June 2.

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