NEW YORK — Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and his estranged wife weren't even in the courtroom Friday, but fireworks erupted when their lawyers clashed over a proposed gag order that would bar either side from commenting publicly about the couple's increasingly nasty divorce fight.
Acting state Supreme Court Justice Judith Gische declined to issue such an order, which is being sought by Giuliani, saying she didn't have the authority to do so as long as Donna Hanover and her attorneys had not agreed to it. That touched off a bitter exchange in which Raoul Felder, representing the mayor, and Helene Brezinsky, representing Hanover, attacked each other's clients.
"It's become clear that she [Hanover] has another agenda in this--which is to embarrass the mayor, to further her [acting] career, get her name in the paper and sacrifice her children on this anvil, all else be damned," said Felder. He called her a "foolish" and "trivial" woman, whose marriage to Giuliani "has been dead for years."
Felder also took a shot at Hanover's pending motion to bar Giuliani from bringing his new companion, Judith Nathan, into Gracie Mansion, the mayor's official residence. Hanover and the couple's two children still live in the residence.
Brezinsky shot back that it was hypocritical for Giuliani to complain about news coverage: "This is a man who has been flaunting his mistress. Look at that if you want to know who wants publicity."
Gische asked for blueprints of Gracie Mansion so that she could better understand the layout of the living quarters. She also asked for any documents shedding light on whether the city-owned 18th-century mansion is a private residence, as Hanover claims, or a public place where people are free to come and go, as Giuliani has argued.
Although the judge said she could not issue the gag order, she took note of the couple's children, ages 11 and 15, saying they are old enough to understand what is being said about their parents in the media.
The couple disclosed a little more than a year ago that they were divorcing, amid revelations that Giuliani had begun seeing Nathan, a sales manager for Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co.