Prosecutors in the Court of Public Opinion

23 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2019

See all articles by Bruce A. Green

Bruce A. Green

Fordham University School of Law

Date Written: June 4, 2019

Abstract

Some prosecutors have been criticized for discussing their cases in the public media, but not Special Counsel Robert Mueller. During his investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential campaign, he was described as “a man who seldom speaks and is rarely seen . . . omnipresent and absent, inescapable but elusive.” Former Independent Counsel Ken Starr, who investigated President Clinton, seemed to think Mueller was reticent to a fault. Starr expressed the view that federal prosecutors’ obligation of accountability to the public ordinarily calls on them to speak more freely about their work.

Using Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation as a case study—indeed, as a study in contrast—this essay considers prosecutors’ relationship with the media. It identifies some law enforcement-related reasons why, in limited circumstances, prosecutors’ offices might discuss their investigations and prosecutions outside of judicial proceedings. But this essay challenges the idea that prosecutors’ duty of accountability requires them generally to discuss ongoing cases in the public media.

Suggested Citation

Green, Bruce A., Prosecutors in the Court of Public Opinion (June 4, 2019). Duquesne University Law Review, Vol. 57, No. 271, 2019; Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3399082. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3399082

Bruce A. Green (Contact Author)

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