June 09, 2020 Articles

Dealing with High-Profile Trials in the Press

Any interaction with the media has the potential to create evidence that may be admissible against a client in subsequent proceedings.

By William Ohlemeyer

In a country with a free press and open courts, the public’s interest in, and at times fascination with, high-profile litigation is unsurprising. Litigation culminating in a jury trial generally contains all of the dramatis personae, narrative devices, and plot twists found in popular literature or cinema. Inherit the Wind, Miracle on 34th Street, My Cousin Vinny, and A Few Good Men are just a few popular movies built around real or imagined trials. The term “Trial of the Century” has its own Wikipedia page, which lists dozens of cases so described before (and after) the postmodern exemplar—The People v. OJ Simpson. Representing clients in high-profile litigation requires an appreciation of the media, the media’s relationship to your client, and the respective interests of both. Dealing with the press in high-profile litigation places a premium on coordination between attorney and client concerning what is said, by whom, when, and through what medium.

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