After weeks of headline-grabbing legal filings by both sides in the Paula Jones case, the federal judge overseeing the case Tuesday ordered them both to knock it off.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright issued an order Tuesday, saying she cannot ignore that attorneys for both President Clinton and Mrs. Jones have "filed a number of contentious pleadings and have perhaps engaged in activities in violation of court orders."
Specifically, attorneys for Mrs. Jones and Clinton have exchanged a tit-for-tat series of pleadings that either made public scandalous claims about the president and his alleged sexual liaisons or raised questions about his accusers.
Judge Wright said she is "on the verge" of ruling on Clinton's motion to dismiss Mrs. Jones' sexual-harassment lawsuit. The case is scheduled to go to trial May 27 in Little Rock, Ark.
The judge said neither side should publicize "any pleading, past, present or future, which reveals the identity of any Jane Doe." Judge Wright appeared to be referring specifically to a filing Saturday by Mrs. Jones' lawyers that disclosed the name of a woman who had been linked to an alleged sexual episode with Clinton 20 years ago. The woman has denied the allegation.
Judge Wright warned that anyone found in contempt of her orders will be punished.
She also directed that no future legal filings should be made public before they are filed in the federal court in Little Rock or are in her hands.
The Rutherford Institute, the conservative legal organization paying the expenses of Mrs. Jones' lawyers, publicly criticized her Dallas-based attorneys in a written statement, adhering to the previous practice of using Jane Doe to refer to women preferring not to be named.