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Judge refuses to issue gag order in case against former Carroll aide

Circuit Court Judge Frank Sheffield declined Assistant State Attorney John Hutchins' attempt to seal the file and prevent lawyers representing a former aide for the lieutenant governor from making statements to the media.

But Sheffield did admonish attorneys on both sides of the case during a private meeting in his chambers today, according to Steve Andrews, an attorney representing Carletha Cole, the former aide accused of sharing an illegal recording of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll with the Florida Times-Union newspaper.

"He told us that we cannot talk about the evidence in the case and in accordance with Florida Bar rules we can't make extra-judicial comments that can be perceived" to have a detrimental affect on the case, Andrews said.

Hutchins filed a five-page motion asking for the gag order on Monday. A hearing on the state's case against Cole -- she is charged with a felony -- had already been scheduled for today so Sheffield to could get an update on the case in its initial stages. Witnesses will be interviewed in the coming weeks, the attorneys told him.

"We didn't have a hearing on the gag order and I'm not going to enter a gag order but I am expecting compliance with the rules of professional conduct in regard to extra-judicial statements," Sheffield said.

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