The Maryland Court of Appeals today postponed the carrying out of a court order that would have permitted Edward Thomas Mann, accused of multiple murders in a shooting incident at IBM in Bethesda last year, to meet with prosecutors and the press for interviews.

The state's highest court said it will consider the case in the fall, but until then a Montgomery County Circuit judge's ruling earlier this week will not be carried out.

Mann, hospitalized in a high security mental institution since last winter when he was found mentally incompetent to stand trial, had requested the interviews. But two of his own attorneys objected, asserting that Mann could do "irreparable harm" to his own defense during such discussions.

These attorneys, at odds with their client, argued that because of Mann's mental incompetence he is not capable of deciding to give up his constitutional protection from self-incrimination.

However, Circuit Judge William C. Miller said last Monday that he was "caught between conflicting constitutional rights" and had to balance Mann's protection from self-incrimination against Mann's right to free speech.

Miller ruled that it would set "a dangerous precedent" to deny Mann communication with the outside world and thus he would permit the interviews. However, Miller postponed the date his ruling goes into effect to give the attorneys time to seek a delay through the state's appellate system.

Two of Mann's attorneys appealed the ruling to the state's Court of Special Appeals, which dismissed the case Thursday. The attorneys then moved to the state's highest court, seeking a delay until the issue could be argued fully. The state's highest court granted their request and the court will hear the case during its September term.