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Fearing negative publicity and its potential impact on their case, attorneys for a luxury Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., condominium say they will ask a Miami-Dade Circuit judge today to bar attorneys who are suing them from talking to the media. The request grows out of a story that appeared in the Daily Business Review last month about the lawsuit filed against the Oceania condominium by Alceu Aragao. Aragao’s wife and two children were kidnapped last December from the complex’s parking garage. Aragao, a wealthy Brazilian businessman, filed suit against Oceania and its management, alleging that lax security made the kidnapping possible. Alceu Aragao told the Review about how his wife Christine being beaten and brutalized before the FBI rescued the family from a nearby home several days later. The Review detailed the kidnapping in a story about security gaps, not only at Oceania but at many other luxury condos in southern Florida. Attorneys for Oceania and its management say they fear the Aragaos want to try their case in the media. “I firmly believe that cases should get decided on what gets presented as evidence in the courtroom and not what is presented in the media,” said Mitchel Chusid of Ritter Chusid Bivona & Cohen in Boca Raton, Fla., who represents Oceania. “That’s not what our system of justice is all about.” Chusid, in a motion to be heard before Judge Margarita Esquiroz, says he is not attempting to impose on the media’s First Amendment rights and has no problem with reports on the case, so long as no one from either side talks to reporters. But the Aragaos’ attorney argues that the public has the right to know about safety concerns and what happened in this case. “The fact that there has been an article is not justification for stopping all communication with the media,” says Thomas Julin of Hunton & Williams in Miami, who will argue against the motion. “If you compare this case to the many others that have had publicity, the risk that they will not be able to get a jury that will give the defendants a fair trial is low and doesn’t justify prior restraint,” he said. He says existing Florida Bar rules already provide sufficient guidance as to what attorneys can and cannot discuss with reporters. But those rules don’t bar parties to the suit from commenting.

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