Judge: “I’ve heard enough.”
In the case of James Bartee, all parties are now muzzled from making pre-trial comments to conventional and other types of media. A circuit judge today warned those involved in the Oconee County criminal case against former Sheriff’s candidate Bartee. Although both sides today accused the other of making the kinds of extra-judicial comments that could taint jury selection, Judge Lawton McIntosh said he was not going to punish anyone. He admonished everyone that what might happen in the future will be treated differently. The criminal offense alleging conspiracy to commit a felony against Bartee awaits trial. In the meantime, there are additional pre-trial motions to be disposed of, including a defense motion seeking dismissal of the charge on the grounds that the original hidden wire recording of conversation between Bartee and an informant for law enforcement has been destroyed. That accusation by defense attorney Jake Moore was again denied today by Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams. But the judge cut off both attorneys, saying today’s proceeding was to consider a gag order only. While the gag order applies to defense, prosecution, law enforcement and others, the judge made clear, it is not a restraint against freedom of the press.