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Order Dismissed Against Letterman; Woman Sought End To Coded Messages

By Jeremy Pawloski
Journal Northern Bureau
    SANTA FE— A Santa Fe district judge on Tuesday quashed a temporary restraining order against late-night talk show host David Letterman for a Santa Fe woman who said in court she will "break their legs" if Letterman or anyone representing him comes near her.
    The woman— Colleen Nestler— claims Letterman has been using code, including gestures and songs, on his program to communicate with her for years, in part to train her as a co-host.
    After the hearing, Nestler said she felt the media's attention to her restraining order had helped her cause.
    "I have achieved my purpose," she said. "The public knows that this man (Letterman) cannot go near me."
    Judge Daniel Sanchez voided the restraining order on the basis of Letterman attorney Pat Rogers' argument that Letterman does not live in New Mexico and New Mexico courts don't have jurisdiction over him.
    Rogers also argued that "Mr. Letterman is entitled to protection of his legal rights and protection of his reputation."
    Letterman's representatives have said he had never even heard of Nestler before her request for a restraining order.
    In her Dec. 15 request for a temporary restraining order, Nestler argued that Letterman had used code words, gestures and songs by other performers on his TV programs to woo her or send other messages.
    "Dave responded to my thoughts of love, and, on his show, in code words & obvious indications through jestures (sic) and eye expressions, he asked me to come east," reads Nestler's restraining order application. "Oprah" was one of his code names for her, Nestler maintained.
    Nestler asked for a judge's order that Letterman not "think of me, and RELEASE ME from his mental harassment and hammering." She also requested that Letterman stay at least three yards away from her and maintained that other TV stars— including Kelsey Grammer of "Frasier"— also used their shows to communicate with her about Letterman.
    Nestler's restraining order application states that the talk-show host was the root cause of her bankruptcy, that Letterman wanted to marry her and that Letterman "wanted to train me, via intense observation, to be his co-host on the Late Show with David Letterman."
    Earlier this month, Sanchez granted the temporary restraining order. He said he had reviewed Nestler's application, and "If they make a proper pleading, then I grant it."
    William Stripp, an attorney in Ramah, N.M., said Tuesday it was inappropriate for Sanchez to sign the restraining order and that he may file a complaint against Sanchez with the state Judicial Standards Commission, if no one else does.
    He said anyone who reads the letter contained in Nestler's TRO application should be able to tell the letter is "clearly delusional."
    "No reasonable judge should have done what he did," Stripp said.
    Nestler said in court that in the beginning of her relationship with Letterman, "I was in love with him." But she admitted to Sanchez that she has no proof of the alleged relationship with Letterman.
    "He's into mind control," Nestler told the judge.
    Nestler added that if Letterman or anyone on Letterman's behalf comes to New Mexico to see her, "I will break their legs and establish the proof of my story."
    Sanchez responded to Nestler that he wouldn't tolerate threats in his courtroom. Rogers told the judge that he was concerned by Nestler's comment about breaking people's legs.
    In court, Nestler described herself as an artist who moved to Santa Fe on Nov. 2 "to start a new life."
    Ginny Wilson of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill was present for Tuesday's hearing, and said she was there in the hopes that Nestler gets help or treatment.
    "I hope it's not over for her getting help," Wilson said.
    Sanchez could not be reached for comment Tuesday after the hearing.

E-MAIL writer Jeremy Pawloski