Leland Yee Case: ‘Shrimp Boy’ Lawyer Fights Against Court Gag Order

Former San Francisco gang figure Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow's lawyers want details of the case – which includes anti-game crusader Senator Leland Yee and a cast of characters from San Francisco, California, and the Philippines. Chow's layers are fighting for the right to reveal the federal government's evidence in its criminal case against him, state Sen. Leland Yee and dozens of others. Lawyers for Chow say that the fed's criminal complaint is a "press release" that deserves a response.

Chow's legal team, led by San Francisco lawyer J. Tony Serra, publicly blasted the U.S. attorney's demand to keep the evidence so secret that revealing it could lead to severe court penalties. Chow faces conspiracy and money laundering charges in a sweeping case that includes political corruption and gun trafficking charges against Yee. Serra argued in court that he should not be kept from revealing evidence from the FBI's four-year probe.

"There is no time in a person's life when the First Amendment is more critical than when facing criminal accusations," Serra wrote. "This is especially true in the case of Mr. Chow, who has been victimized and targeted by the federal government with unbridled enthusiasm."

Federal prosecutors last week asked U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer to order Chow's lawyers to comply with a protective order, which prevents those involved in the case from publicly releasing evidence.

The U.S. attorney's office told the judge that Serra is the only defense lawyer refusing to comply. Prosecutors insist that the order is needed to keep the identities of figures caught on the FBI wiretaps or mentioned but not charged with any crimes.

"Such materials, if improperly disclosed, could be used to besmirch these otherwise innocent individuals," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney William Frentzen.

Breyer, who asked for Serra's response, is now expected to rule on the issue.

Federal prosecutors are proceeding with an ongoing grand jury investigation in the case that is expected to produce a revised indictment in July. Frentzen has already said that that racketeering charges will be added against some of the defendants in the case.

Leland Yee is currently suspended from his senatorial duties while he goes though his court case, though he is still collecting a salary from the state.

Yee is best known as a long time opponent of video games, though he is best known for authoring the 2005 California video game law. That law was challenged in court as unconstitutional in the Supreme court in the 2010 case Brown v. EMA. The court ultimately sided with the EMA, ruling that video games are protected speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Source: San Jose Mercury News

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