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Maine High Court: Jury Proceedings in Zumba Trial Must be Public
01/24/2013   Reported By: Patty B. Wight

For the past two days, potential jurors have been questioned behind closed doors in the trial of Mark Strong, who faces charges that he was a partner in an alleged prostitution business in Kennebunk. But the Maine Supreme Court today ruled that the jury selection process should be public. While that decision was pending, the judge in the case heard various motions on the trial. Patty Wight has this update.

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From day one of jury selection - which began on Tuesday - Justice Nancy Mills barred media from observing the process, citing capacity issues in the courtroom, as well as the need for potential jurors to be candid in their answers. The Portland Press Herald protested that decision and ultimately appealed to the Maine Supreme Court to overturn it. The court di so, ruling that the selection proceedings be public.

While waiting for that ruling, Justice Mills heard several motions in the trial against Mark Strong, including a motion to dismiss all 47 counts of invasion of privacy. Client encounters at the alleged prostitution business were videotaped, and Strong's attorney, Dan Lilley, says those clients knowingly engaged in a criminal activity and they should not have a right to privacy in committing a crime.

"Does that mean that if somebody is in a drug deal in an apartment, and somebody happens to be in the position to take a picture of it, that the drug dealer now becomes a victim of invasion of privacy by the picture taker?" he asked. "I can't believe, and I don't think anybody in this room would believe, that the state of Maine would have that as a law on its books."

But Assitant District Attorney Patrick Gordon argued for the state that the Fourth Amendment, which guards citizens against unusual searches and seizures, should be used as a guide in this case.

"Historically, the Fourt Amendment has protected people, whether they are engaged in legal or illegal activities, in places where they can preserve as private," Gordon said.

Justice Mills did not make an immediate decision, saying she would give the motion further consideration. But Mills did make decisions on other motions. Defense attorney Dan Lilley has often talked publicly about the abundant resources the state has used in the case, as well as his client's financial problems due to fallout from the case.

The state asked that these statements be excluded from trial, claiming they have no bearing on the facts of the case. That was granted. But another motion by the state to exclude any mention of Mark Strong's private investigations into the Kennebunk police department was denied. Strong owns an insurance agency and has a side business as a private investigator. His attorney Dan Lilley suggested police may be retaliating against him.

"So the problem is, our client was involved with an investigation against them, they were involved with an investigation against him. They have the power, he got arrested," Lilley said.

With Justice Mills deciding on most of the motions, the outstanding task to complete before opening arguments can begin is jury selection. That will continue Friday - this time, with the media present.


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