O.J. Simpson’s new trial judge slapped a broad gag order on all participants in the wrongful death lawsuit and shut reporters out of his first hearing in the case Tuesday.
Superior Court Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki also delayed the start of the trial until Sept. 17.
Fujisaki abruptly imposed the gag order, prohibiting out-of-court comments by any trial participants, when lawyers entered his chambers for a routine status hearing.
The order was unusual for a civil proceeding and was seen as an effort to minimize press coverage in the sequel to the nation’s most widely publicized murder trial. Experts suggested it may be appealed.
“This judge may not like lawyers talking to the press, but they have a First Amendment right to do so,” said University of Southern California law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky.
One after the other, lawyers said, “Can’t comment, gag order,” as they emerged from the one-hour hearing in Fujisaki’s chambers.
Later, Superior Court spokeswoman Jerrianne Hayslett announced that the Sept. 9 start of the trial had been delayed, but said the judge hadn’t given her a reason.