“In the context of judicial proceedings, an attorney’s First Amendment rights are not without limits. Although litigants and lawyers do not check their First Amendment rights at the courthouse door, those rights are often subordinated to other interests inherent in the judicial setting.”
Bd. of Prof’l Responsibility of Supreme Court of Tennessee v. Slavin, 145 S.W.3d 538, 549 (Tenn. 2004)
Pretrial publicity is often seen as a war for the hearts and minds of the jury. The Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as local rules, govern what attorneys and prosecutors may convey to the media in criminal cases. There is always a great deal of tension between what the Rules dictate and reality where police, family members, victims and others are already talking to the media.
- Get your client off Facebook
- Get your client’s family to refrain from social media.
- Be prepared for the Perpetrator Walk ( don’t duck and cover !)
- Instead of “No Comment,” your client can advise that “my lawyer may be in a position to answer your questions.”
- When you speak to the media do it in sound bites.
- Know what you are going to say.
- Be accurate.
- Be careful about “off the record” comments
- If you cannot speak to an issue, refer the media to a colleague who might be able to.
Click Meet the Press to download our free booklet which addresses the following issues
Tennessee Rule of Professional Conduct for Attorneys Page 2
Tennessee Rule of Professional Conduct for Prosecutors Page 30
Special Additional Rules in Federal Court. Page 42
Obligation to be Truthful and Respect Rights of Third Persons. Page 46
Media Public Records Access and Protecting Discovery. Page 52
Slander Page 80
Insulting the Judge Page 83
Closure of Court Proceedings Page 103
Gag Orders Page 114
Change of Venue Page 127
Speaking to Jurors Page 141