Judge in Karen Read case issues 200 foot ‘buffer zone’ for demonstrators ahead of upcoming trial

DEDHAM, Mass. — The judge presiding over the Karen Read murder case has ordered a 200-foot buffer zone around the Norfolk Superior Courthouse in Dedham and restrictions on megaphones and clothing to shield jurors from outside influences.

WATCH LIVE: Karen Read case returns to court as prosecutors seek buffer zone for upcoming murder trial.

WATCH LIVE: Karen Read case returns to court as prosecutors seek buffer zone for upcoming murder trial.

Posted by Boston 25 News on Thursday, April 4, 2024

Judge Beverly Cannone filed her order after a hearing Thursday morning, where she said, “I do find that an external buffer zone is appropriate and that we do need prudent regulation on in court expression.”

For nearly a year now, Karen Read supporters have been gathering on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse with ‘Free Karen Read’ signs and clothing and her pretrial hearings have been packed with spectators.

Judge Cannone’s Order: “It is Ordered that no individual may demonstrate in any manner, including carrying signs or placards, within 200 feet of the Courthouse Complex during trial unless otherwise Ordered by this Court. This complex includes the Norfolk Superior Courthouse building and the parking area behind the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds building. Individuals are also prohibited from using audio enhancing devices while protesting.  It is further ORDERED that no individuals will be permitted to wear or exhibit any buttons, photographs, clothing, or insignia, relating to the case pending against the defendant or relating to any trial participant, in the Courthouse during the trial. Law enforcement officers who are testifying or are members of the audience are also prohibited from wearing their department-issued uniforms or any police emblems in the Courthouse.  (Cannone, RAJ) dated 04/04/2024″

Read, of Mansfield, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe, in Canton. She’s accused of running over him in reverse and leaving him to die in a January 2022 snowstorm.

Her lawyers and supporters claim she’s been framed in a wide-ranging conspiracy involving witnesses and law enforcement.

The Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office has requested to provide a 500-foot buffer zone around Dedham’s Norfolk Superior Court for the high-profile murder case, which has attracted flocks of Read supporters holding posters and wearing “Free Karen Read” shirts.

Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally told Judge Cannone, “Protesting is going to happen. That’s fine. It’s just where it happens and how it impacts the jury in this case, is what the Commonwealth has concerns about.”

Both the ACLU and several of Karen Read’s supporters filed motions to intervene to exercise their First Amendment rights outside her upcoming trial on April 16. They say they will not interfere with anyone or obstruct anyone at the courthouse but will engage in speech on a matter of public concern in a traditional public forum.

Attorney Marc Randazza told Boston 25, “the First Amendment is prominent. It’s above any other right that we have.”

Read’s last hope of avoiding a trial was squashed last week when Cannone denied a motion to dismiss her indictment.

The trial begins April 16.

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