Barring defendant from seeing arrest affidavit isn’t too unusual, experts say
By EMILY ALLEN Staff Writer
Experts say a judge's rare decision to bar a murder defendant from reviewing his own arrest affidavit could mean more arrests are coming, or that the state is relying on informants with serious concerns about their safety.
A York County judge made the unusual decision on Tuesday to bar Lorenze Labonte, 25, from viewing a police affidavit for his arrest.
A motion to impound the document from the Office of the Maine Attorney General was also sealed.
Superior Court Justice James Martemucci did allow Labonte's defense attorney, Verne Paradie, access to the affidavit. However, Paradie can't discuss the contents with anyone else - including his client...
Experts who spoke to the Press Herald about the order said they are not familiar with the details of Labonte's case and only agreed to speak from general experience...
Tim Zerillo, a Portland defense attorney and director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the impound order could affect Labonte's ability to participate in his own defense and bail arguments.
By statute, murder defendants are allowed a Harnish hearing within five days of their arrest to reconsider bail, which is typically denied in homicide cases. Defense attorneys will often waive that right and wait until they have more evidence on their client's case.
If Labonte felt he had a really good defense and wanted to have a Harnish hearing soon, Zerillo said, not having access to his affidavit could be a problem.
"If he can't see the evidence against him, then that ties one of his hands behind his back, figuratively," Zerillo said.
But more than likely, Labonte will eventually have access to his affidavit.
Murder cases move slowly, Zerillo said, and a brief delay might not have a huge impact when his attorney already has access...
Emily Allen — 207-791-6457 email@example.com