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Dalia Dippolito attorney wants judge to hold prosecutors in contempt

Defense attorney says prosecutors, ex-prosecutor violated court order

Dalia Dippolito will face a third trial on the charge of solicitation to commit first-degree murder.
Dalia Dippolito will face a third trial on the charge of solicitation to commit first-degree murder.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – An attorney for a Boynton Beach woman who is accused of hiring an undercover police officer to kill her husband wants to know why prosecutors aren't being held in criminal contempt of court for failing to obey a gag order.

West Palm Beach attorney Greg Rosenfeld filed a motion last week for order to show cause.

Palm Beach County Judge Glenn Kelley ruled last month that prosecutors and the defense team for Dalia 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.

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, filed March 29, seeks to have Kelley hold prosecutors Craig Williams and Laura Laurie, as well as former prosecutor Elizabeth Parker, is contempt of court.

File: Motion for order to show cause

The motion claims that Williams, Laurie and Parker likely violated the court-issued gag order by speaking to a local television news reporter about the strategy used during Dippolito's initial trial. The news report cited "a source close to the case."

Rosenfeld said Williams, Laurie and Parker are the "only people who would have intimate knowledge of the state's trial strategy."

Parker prosecuted Dippolito's first trial and now represents Dippolito's ex-husband.

"Clearly, one of these parties, either directly or through their agents or employees, violated this court's order," Rosenfeld wrote.

Rosenfeld said that failure to hold the lawyers accountable for releasing information about the trial allows the state "and its agents to continue to spread their debilitating and prejudicial narrative and taint the jury pool." Rosenfeld also said the defense has been "prohibited from making virtually any comments on the case."

A hearing on the matter was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

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

She 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, however, reversed the conviction in 2014.

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

Dalia Dippolito walks out of the Palm Beach County courthouse after a mistrial was declared.
Dalia Dippolito walks out of the Palm Beach County courthouse after a mistrial was declared.

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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