26 May 2005

Pretrial Publicity

Mike wonders about the parameters of blogging and / or setting up a web page for your client. The rule I think applies is this one (from Virginia's Rules):
RULE 3.6 Trial Publicity

(a) A lawyer participating in or associated with the investigation or the prosecution or the defense of a criminal matter that may be tried by a jury shall not make or participate in making an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication that the lawyer knows, or should know, will have a substantial likelihood of interfering with the fairness of the trial by a jury.

(b) A lawyer shall exercise reasonable care to prevent employees and associates from making an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer would be prohibited from making under this Rule.
A website or news article (including a prosecution press release or conference) would violate this rule as the point would be to take part in a media which is widespread and accessible to a great number of people. Posting on a pre-existent blog might not have the same effect - they just don't have the same reach. I doubt many jurors will have read CrimLaw before coming to court.

Now, as to whether a clerk might be reading this (or better yet a judge) and I might be able to influence her through the power of my prose . . . Hmmmm . . . Nah, I'm just not devious enough to pull it off.

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