by: Erica Byfield Updated:
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis and lawyers associated with the trial are now prohibited from speaking with the media after a judge approved a gag order requested by the county district attorney.
Channel 2’s Erica Byfield confirmed the judge’s decision Wednesday evening.
Ellis is awaiting trial on accusations of shaking down county vendors for campaign contributions.
The gag order granted by DeKalb Judge Courtney Johnson restricts Ellis or any of the attorneys associated with the trial from talking to the media until sentencing, if the trial goes that far.
District Attorney Robert James's office filed the emergency motion for the gag order late Tuesday. This occurred just hours before Ellis was expected to answer questions about his alleged conduct on an Atlanta radio station.
The motion reads, "Based on past comments by defendant Ellis and his attorney Craig Gillen, it is expected that the defense will once again reveal information pertaining to the captured wire communications."
Early Wednesday morning Ellis' defense team fired off a counter motion.
Attorney Craig Gillen said the proposed gag order violates Ellis' and his counsel's First Amendment rights and since many in the county are concerned about the case Ellis and his defense team "object to any restraints upon the media."
In reference to past comments about wire communications, Gillen called the allegations unfounded and sheer speculation.
Ellis has maintained his innocence since the allegations surfaced.
In a YouTube video he released last week he reiterated his beliefs.
"I am innocent of the charges against me. They are politically motivated... I believe that what is right will always reveal itself in the end and that will be the restoration to the office of which you have elected me and my reputation," Ellis said.
A second criminal grand jury indicted him late last week on charges that include bribery and perjury.
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