“I think the public is a little more sophisticated. They take, forgive me, lawyers with a grain of salt.”
~Laurie L. Levenson, Professor of Law, Loyola Law School
Over the past eighteen months or so, Drew Peterson and his attorney, Joel Brodsky, have subjected us all to an onslaught of trial-by-media. Presumably, not based on any facts that they have in hand, or even offering alternative responses to publicly disclosed information, but using the media to continuously discredit the victims’ families and friends, and to expose potential witnesses to nothing short of character assassination. On local television and radio, national news, cable news, newspapers, blog-talk radio stations. Joel Brodsky has even used a blog to post and comment, as a way to get feedback about his client.
In this high profile case, rather than follow conventional wisdom by advising his client to refrain from discussing potential charges in the death of his ex-wife, or disappearance of his current wife, Joel Brodsky has encouraged it. Even getting in on the media blitz himself. At one point, his own law partner questioned his actions, and expressed concern about it. Yet, she was told it would get them all book deals some day. Joel Brodsky has even used his high-profile client to promote his personal liquor establishment.
Is this ethical? Is it within the guidelines of the American Bar Association Rules? Is it the go-to method for defending a high-profile client, even before he is charged with a crime?
How does a defense attorney’s role change when defending a high-profile client? Beyond traditional legal defense, must a modern defense attorney seek to protect a client’s public image? When speaking with the media, what rules, if any, should constrain a defense attorney’s behavior? Does media coverage affect the fairness of a trial?
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