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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 166140 Find in a Library
Title: Defend and Tell
Journal: ABA Journal  Volume:82  Dated:(December 1996)  Pages:64-67
Author(s): J Gibeaut
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 4
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the legal and ethical implications when attorneys sell their clients' stories to the media.
Abstract: Almost all States, except California and Virginia, have adopted versions of ABA (American Bar Association) rule 1.8(d), or its predecessor in the Model Code. This rule prohibits lawyers from obtaining literary or media rights to their clients' stories during a pending case, because such deals potentially can create a conflict of interest. The fear is that lawyers may make strategy decisions that are not in their clients' best interests. Disciplinary actions under the rule are rare, however. Research by the ABA Journal found only five instances, and these cases suggest that the offending lawyers are being treated leniently. Three of the cases resulted in suspensions of 1 year or less. Another ended with a reprimand. Legal observers speculate that disciplinary authorities may be hesitant to mete our harsher punishments for fear they may jeopardize an otherwise solid conviction on appeal, unfairly rewarding a guilty defendant by punishing the defense attorney. Courts that have dealt with ineffective assistance claims that involve media rights typically use the test set down by the U.S. Supreme Court in Cuyler v. Sullivan (1980). To prevail, a defendant who does not object to a potential conflict at trial must show that an actual conflict developed -- usually a signed contract -- and that the conflict adversely affected the lawyer's performance. In Beets v. Scott, the Fifth Circuit Court used a stricter test announced by the U.S. Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington (1984), which also requires a defendant to show that a lawyer's deficient performance prejudiced the outcome.
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Attorney client relations; Legal fees; Media coverage; Professional conduct and ethics; Professional misconduct
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=166140

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