Karen Read supporters file motion arguing buffer zone outside courthouse is unconstitutional

DEDHAM, Mass. — Supporters of a woman accused of killing her boyfriend in 2022 say a court decision to keep them at a distance from the courthouse violates constitutional law.

Several of Karen Read’s supporters filed a motion to intervene for the purpose of exercising 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.

The Norfolk District Attorney’s Office previously requested that a buffer zone be erected around the Norfolk Superior Courthouse in Dedham when the trial begins. The DA’s office is asking that crowds be kept at least 500 feet away to shield jurors from Karen Read supporters and “Free Karen Read” signs and clothing.

In the motion filed on Tuesday, the supporters argued the Commonwealth “seeks to gag Lady Liberty and must not be permitted to do so without opposition.”

The plaintiffs argue that trials are public events and the public should not be kept from participating. They are also requesting spectators be allowed inside the courtroom wearing “Free Karen Read” shirts or buttons as long as they are not disruptive.

“The Court should tread lightly outside the courthouse, and it should make its decisions as circumstances require inside the courthouse,” the motion read.

Courts, including Norfolk Superior, have used buffer zones in the past - including the so-called “Puppy Doe” trial in 2017.

“The Court regularly exercises its authority to provide for the fair administration of justice, including defending the juries from undue influence in various ways. It is at the discretion of the Court,” said a spokesperson for Norfolk DA’s Office.

Karen Read is accused of running down her Boston Police officer boyfriend John O’Keefe with her SUV outside 34 Fairview Rd in Canton just after midnight on January 29, 2022.

Her defense team has long claimed she is innocent, and they have accused prosecution witnesses of framing her. Supporters of her have raised dozens of issues with the investigation and prosecution of Read including connections between members of law enforcement and witnesses.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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