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TELEMUNDO NETWORK DEFEATS PRIOR RESTRAINT ATTEMPT BY A FLORIDA MURDER DEFENSE LAWYER

 HIALEAH, Fla., April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- A Florida circuit court judge yesterday refused to bar the Telemundo television network from airing a murder confession called "illegal" by the Dade County Florida Public Defender's Office. Judge W. Thomas Spencer, of Florida's Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court, made his decision after a four-hour evidentiary hearing.
 The confession in question -- part of a 20-minute interview by Ocurrio Asi reporter Guillermo Vargas with an imprisoned woman awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges -- will air this week. Ocurrio Asi is a daily, Spanish-language, investigative-magazine program produced by Telemundo.
 The public defender assigned to the case claimed the interview was illegal because the Dade County Department of Corrections failed to seek his consent before granting Telemundo access to the accused woman, Alicia de Jesus Lopez. But Judge Spencer ruled that Telemundo was not obligated to contact the attorney and that Lopez had voluntarily consented to the interview without her attorney being present.
 "This decision is very important because it helps to re-establish the principle that there shall be no prior restraint on publication," said attorney Allen Rosenthal, who represented Telemundo at the court hearing. "There's been some confusion over the inviolability of that principle since the case of the Manuel Noriega tapes."
 For several days in 1990, a federal court broke a 50-year tradition against prior restraint in the United States by preventing Telemundo/CNN from broadcasting incriminating tapes of Noriega's jailhouse telephone conversations. Lopez's defense based its request for an injunction on the Noriega case.
 "The courts are recognizing that what was happening in the Noriega case was unique to those particular circumstances, and that the First Amendment principle of no prior restraint remains viable and strong," Rosenthal said.
 Telemundo Group, Inc. is a Spanish-language television network operating in the United States through its owned-and-operated stations and affiliates. The network reaches approximately 85 percent of all Hispanic television households in 46 markets on the U.S. mainland. In addition, Telemundo syndicates its programming to international markets.
 -0- 4/15/93
 /CONTACT: Sergio Lopez-Miro of Telemundo, 305-884-9611/


CO: Telemundo Group ST: Florida IN: ENT TLS SU:

AW-SS -- FL009 -- 6300 04/15/93 13:18 EDT
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Date:Apr 15, 1993
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