Next Month's Mazzaglia Appeal Will Be Open - But With Limits

Oct 17, 2016

Oral arguments in the case involving the 2012 rape and murder of UNH student Lizzi Marriott have been set for November 16.

But lawyers in the case will be restricted in how they discuss details in the case during the appeal process.

Seth Mazzaglia is appealing his life sentence for Marriott's murder on the grounds that information about the victim’s sexual past was crucial to his defense and should have been heard by the jury.

Last month New Hampshire's highest court ruled that those details would remain sealed throughout the appeal process but that arguments would be open.

What that ruling would look like in practice, however, was unclear. Lawyers for the defense said they thought open courts meant lawyers had the leeway to talk about the details of Marriott's sexual history. The victim’s family, however, thought otherwise.

On Friday, the court provided some clarification, saying lawyers should use their judgment and restrict comments to only the details that are crucial to their client's case. 

Justice Robert Lynn disagreed. He said this would set a bad precedent as it would be the first time a court is “choreographing” what is said at public arguments. 

This information about the victim's sexual past was protected during trial under the state's Rape Shield Law, a law every state has some version of on its books.

Motion for Clarification 10/14/2016