Judge in Brent Case Tells Lawyers to Watch Words - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Judge in Brent Case Tells Lawyers to Watch Words

A Dallas County judge says too much publicity isn't necessarily good publicity



    State District Judge Robert Burns on Friday told attorneys on both sides that he was concerned about the massive media attention Brent's case has received. He asked all lawyers to be careful in their public comments, but did not issue a gag order. (Published Friday, July 19, 2013)

    A Dallas judge has ordered attorneys to be careful about their public comments in the intoxication manslaughter case of ex-Cowboy Josh Brent.

    State District Judge Robert Burns on Friday told attorneys that the case has gotten excessive pretrial publicity -- some of it inaccurate.

    Brent is charged in a December car wreck that killed a Dallas practice squad player and friend, Jerry Brown.

    Both sides showed up to court Friday after Brent's attorney, George Milner, asked Burns to step in after remarks made by the district attorney on 105.3 The Fan several weeks ago.

    "Mr. Brent based on the tests we have seen still uses alcohol and illicit drugs, and so for us to protect the public and send a message," said DA Craig Watkins in the radio interview. "We feel that we have a responsibility to make sure that he loses his freedom."

    Brent was in jail for 10 days last month after testing positive for marijuana twice, but authorities have not presented definitive evidence that Brent was drinking since the crash.

    "As a prosecutor you cannot go out and say 'I believe the guy is guilty,' and make false statements that he's done things he hasn't done," said Milner.

    The judge decided there should be a limit in what both sides say to the media, in order to not taint a potential jury and to allow a fair trial.

    The assistant district attorney handling the case, Heath Harris, didn't say much about the comments made by Watkins but said he will be making sure Brent follows conditions of his bond. 

    "Whether it's drinking or using marijuana or any other violations, we're going to call him on it," said Harris. "And if we find he is in violation, we are going to ask this judge to hold his bond insufficient."

    When asked about the radio comments, Harris referred media to Watkins.

    Both sides agree they are ready for trial, slated to begin September 23rd.

    A judge’s order limiting what can be said beforehand, is expected in the coming days.

    Brent didn't comment after court. He retired Thursday from the NFL.

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