18 January 2005

A Federal PD Speaks

A federal public defender sent me his views on the last post:

On the Albany story: My take is geared to the fact that a defense attorney not associated with the case would comment. One of the most troublesome parts of the article is that a fellow (local) criminal defense attorney would comment on another local) defense attorney's case. Its bad enough when it happens on CNN/Court TV or "national cases" and while unexcusable, can be seen for the showmanship/media seeking/profile building that it is. When it occurs in small towns and cities (like Albany, or Buffalo), it really is disturbing to me (I carve out a small exception in the rare case when you have to defend your client in the press and it benefits your client in some way to heap it on a hostile/adversarial co-defendant). We have a tough enough job that we don't need other attorneys offering commentary -- that may well be damaging in a case -- to the press.

Credibility with your brother/sister defense attorneys aside, it can always come back to bite you (see Geragos commenting on Peterson). Its something "old school" criminal defense guys -- at least to hear them tell it -- would never do.


[Ken here] From my point of view, the reason that lawyers talk to the press, whether it be about a local or national case, is to get publicity. Publicity leads to more clients willing to pay more money. While not mutually exclusive, there's a difference between being capable and being known; those who are known make more money.

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