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Dealing with the Media

NZ $30.00
Author(s): Denise Bates QC, Simon Moore, Professor Judy McGregor
Published: 1 November, 1999
Pages: 72



Lord Taylor, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales at a May 1996 conference on “Justice in the Media Age” criticised defence lawyers for giving interviews in which they proclaimed the innocence of their clients before trials or appeals. He referred to it as a practice that carries the risk of undermining the trial and appeal process and he observed that it could also be a breach of the lawyer’s primary professional duty to the court. He said there had been a “disturbing tendency” among some defence lawyers to use the media in the run up to a major appeal to activate public interest and create a climate in which the case was widely perceived in advance of the hearing as a miscarriage of justice. In his view this tended to undermine the appeal process that exists, specifically, to test convictions to ensure they are safe and satisfactory. He noted it could limit the options open to the Court of Appeal by prejudicing the outcome of any possible retrial. He expressed the opinion:

... [T]o have lawyers standing on the steps of the courtroom expressing their personal belief in their client’s innocence to the public at large, threatens to escalate into the sort of media circus which disfigured the trial of O J Simpson.

Increasingly in New Zealand practitioners are either being pursued by the media or approaching the media themselves to give interviews or make statements relating to their clients’ cases. Quite apart from the need to ensure the practitioner is acting in his or her own client’s best interests, there are a number of ethical considerations the overlooking of which may have serious consequences for the practitioner.


Content outline

  • Interviews with the media: lawyers' legal and ethical duties
  • Combating, coaxing and coping with the media: a guide for criminal lawyers
  • Media in the courtroom and televised trials
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