The Ethics of Talking to the Media

11 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2014

See all articles by Peter A. Joy

Peter A. Joy

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Kevin C. McMunigal

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Date Written: August 11, 2014

Abstract

Prosecutors and defense lawyers often seek to use the media to shape public opinion and to help their client’s causes. Even the alleged victim may retain counsel for advice and help in dealing with the media. Each lawyer attempting to advance a client’s position must work within ethical constraints when speaking with and using the media. Courts may also step in and impose legal constraints on the lawyers’ use of the media. Both ethics rules and court orders regulating publicity balance the competing values of a fair trial against free speech and the public’s right to be informed. Before answering a reporter’s questions, calling a press conference, or having other dealings with the media, a lawyer should know the ethical boundaries as well as the potential risks and benefits to the client. In this article, we review both the ethical and practical considerations for the prosecution and the defense when talking with the media.

Keywords: ethics, professional responsibility, prosecution, defense, media, First Amendment, ABA Model Rules, ABA Model Rule 3.6

JEL Classification: K14, K19, K39, K40

Suggested Citation

Joy, Peter A. and McMunigal, Kevin C., The Ethics of Talking to the Media (August 11, 2014). Criminal Justice, Volume 28, Number 4, Winter 2014 Forthcoming; Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-08-02; Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-32. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2478793

Peter A. Joy (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
313-935-6445 (Phone)

Kevin C. McMunigal

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
2163683613 (Phone)
2163682086 (Fax)

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