South Dakota College Student Accused of Intentionally Exposing Women to HIV Obtains New Lawyer
A lawyer who specializes in constitutional law has taken over as legal counsel for 18-year-old South Dakota college student Nikko Briteramos, who was arrested in March and indicted last month on three counts of intentional HIV exposure, the Chicago Tribune reports. James Koch said that he is representing Briteramos pro bono, but could not comment further on the case due to a judicial gag order. Briteramos' case has called national attention to state laws that make it a crime for individuals who test positive for HIV to have unprotected sexual contact without informing their partners of their HIV status. The case has also prompted national public policy groups and AIDS activists to question the effectiveness of such state laws. Those opposing the laws argue that the "best defense" against them is to never get tested for HIV. More than 30 states have enacted laws to discourage intentional HIV transmission (Janega, Chicago Tribune, 6/4). Briteramos was indicted on May 2 and could face up to 45 years in prison if convicted. Jury selection for Briteramos' trial is set to begin July 24 (Kafka, Associated Press, 6/3).
Media Asks Judge to Lift Gag Order
A lawyer for several South Dakota media organizations and the Associated Press yesterday filed a request in circuit court asking that Judge Jon Erickson relax a gag order he imposed a month ago in the case, the Associated Press reports. On May 1, Erickson forbade anyone involved in the trial, including Briteramos, witnesses, police or attorneys, from talking to the press without judicial permission. Jon Arneson, who is representing seven newspapers, three television stations and the South Dakota Newspaper Association in addition to the Associated Press, argued that such gag orders should be "used sparingly" and only "when judges reasonably believe the publicity endangers the chances of getting a fair trial and [when] other remedies cannot effectively make up for prejudicial pretrial publicity." A hearing on the request is set for Friday Associated Press, 6/3).