ALFRED, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Jury selection for the Mark Strong prostitution trial was abruptly halted today when the state's highest court stepped in.
Jury selection in the high profile Kennebunk Zumba case entered it's third this morning, but the Chief Justice of The Maine Supreme Court ordered the process halted late this morning. Jurors were then dismissed for the day.
Maine Today Media, the company that owns several newspapers, including the Portland Press Herald, objected to the fact that Justice Nancy Mills decided to hold the jury selection process behind closed doors. Attorneys for the paper argued that process should be open to the media and members of the public. The high court agreed and ruled those proceedings will be open from here moving forward.
Chief Justice Leigh Saufley ordered that the process be halted until the full court could reach a decision on the newspaper's motion.
While the jury selection process was halted Justice Nancy Mills held hearings on several motions.
The first motion was by the defense asking that it be given any information about deals the state made to clients of the prostitution operation in exchange for their testimony.
The prosecutor told the judge all of the so called johns were offered a deal. If they plead guilty to one count and pay fines according to the number of visits they made then the other counts would be dropped.
She said none were offered deals in exchange for testimony.
"They knew that when they entered a plea that they could be called to testify but there was no decision on the state's part to make them a particular offer to get them to testify", Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan told the judge.
The judge ordered the state to provide the defense with copies of the letters proposing the deal to the johns.
Then Strong's attorney asked the judge to drop all of the invasion of privacy charges against his client.
Dan Lilley says the johns went to the Zumba studio, a commercial operation, with the intent to commit a crime and are not provided any privacy under the law.
"So the thought that somehow the State of Maine has a law that permits private acts when you're committing a crime, on its face seems ludicrous", Lilley said.
Lilley asked if banks should be charged with invasion of privacy for taking video of bank robbers. The judge said she would consider the arguments and release her decision soon.