ACLU Appeals 'Joe Cool' Gag Order on Behalf of Family Member, Maria Gagliardo

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
October 28, 2009 12:00 am

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MIAMI – Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed an appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal late yesterday on behalf of Maria Gagliardo, the grandmother of two children who were orphaned when their parents were murdered aboard the Joe Cool vessel on the Atlantic Ocean in 2007.

Ms. Gagliardo is a member of the extended family that suffered this tragedy and for the past five years she has been writing a book about the family. Since 2007, her writings have included the Joe Cool murders and her experiences with the civil and criminal justice system.

A Miami-Dade Family Court Judge entered a Gag Order in October 2009 in the ongoing guardianship proceedings over the orphaned children. The order prevents Gagliardo and other family members from speaking about or publishing any information that relates to the children, their family, the Joe Cool murders that orphaned them, or the justice system that continues to deal with the aftermath of that widely publicized crime.

“The effect for Gagliardo is that her book cannot be completed or published as it is written – as history happened. Lawyers and Judges shouldn’t need reminders that the United States and Florida Constitutions forbid these types of gag orders and prior restraints,” said Maria Kayanan, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU of Florida. “The very court that should be protecting free speech is silencing it, and in doing so, violating Ms. Gagliardo’s rights.”

Ms. Kayanan, along with Randall Marshall, Legal Director of the ACLU of Florida, represents Ms. Gagliardo in this appeal.

A copy of the Notice of Appeal can be downloaded in PDF here: www.aclufl.org/pdfs/JoeCoolAppeal.pdf

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