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Beryllium witness wants gag order reversed

By Stacie Oulton
Denver Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - GOLDEN - A Boston doctor who served as an expert witness in the high-profile beryllium lawsuit is asking the state Supreme Court to rule that a gag order in the case is unconstitutional.

David Egilman, a Brown University professor, called the gag order a violation of his First Amendment rights because it forced him to shut down a private Web site. He accused the judge in the case of "selectively enforcing the gag order and attempting to ruin my reputation."

Jefferson County District Court Judge Frank Plaut said he could not comment because he had not seen the petition Egilman filed Monday with the Supreme Court .

Plaut issued the gag order before the trial began, barring participants from discussing the case and from publishing information about the case on the Internet.

Egilman testified on behalf of four Rocky Flats workers suing an Ohio company for an illness they contracted at the former nuclear-weapons plant. But Plaut threw out his testimony to punish Egilman for violating the gag order.

Plaut also said Egilman was not a credible witness.

Egilman wrote disparaging statements during the trial about Plaut and others on his Web site, which was password-restricted. Egilman alleges that the site was broken into by attorneys representing Brush Wellman, the beryllium manufacturer being sued, and that he planted the statements to entice the lawyers to break in.

The jury returned a verdict Tuesday against the workers and for the company.

The Supreme Court could decide on Thursday whether it will hear Egilman's case.


 

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