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Judge Cites Potential For Publicity In Canceling Unabomber Hearing

A federal judge has canceled a pretrial hearing in the Unabomber case, deciding that publicity generated from such a session might jeopardize Theodore Kaczynski’s right to an impartial jury.

The hearing would have focused on whether the government should be able to admit certain evidence about bombings other than the four with which Kaczynski has been charged in Sacramento. Prosecutors, in an agreement with Kaczynski’s lawyers, edited the information out of documents filed last week in U.S.

District Court here.

District Judge Garland Burrell had scheduled a hearing for next month on the issue, but reconsidered after reviewing recent television coverage in the case, he said. Television reports on a related court hearing were “substantial,” he said, and further coverage might taint efforts to impanel an impartial jury.

The issue likely will not be decided until a jury is picked, Burrell indicated in his order.

Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Steven Lapham declined to comment on the judge’s decision Tuesday, but prosecutors argued earlier in court that the matter should be decided before trial.