Defense lawyers fight gag order

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is fighting a proposed gag order on indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson.

The group, in a court brief filed last week, argues that the U.S. Attorney’s Office hasn’t provided sufficient evidence for an order to silence Johnson.

“Instead, it appears the government is asking the court to presume the mere specter of media attention is sufficient to justify the entry of a very broad gag order, not only on Mr. Johnson and his counsel, but also on any or all possible witnesses,” the association’s 26-page document says.

In asking for the gag order, federal prosecutors alleged Johnson has used the media to “publicly besmirch the integrity” of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“While (Johnson) has the right to his day in court, he is not entitled to litigate his case in the media by means of false accusation and innuendo,” they argue.

A judge is expected to rule on the gag order request later this month. A federal magistrate judge has warned Johnson not to talk to the media until then.

Johnson faces charges of Internet fraud and claims Attorney General John Swallow was part of a bribery scheme that failed to derail a federal investigation into his business practices.