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Prosecutors, Pretrial Comments, and Preserving Fair Trials
By Martin S. Pinales
The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a public trial and the right to an impartial jury. The First Amendment guarantees the press and the public the right to attend criminal trials and to report about them. With the media storm that typically follows high profile cases, how do we reconcile these important rights?
Last month, the Supreme Court refused to hear a First Amendment challenge by attorney Gloria Allred against a gag order imposed by the trial judge in a murder case. Allred represented the defendant’s ex-girlfriend, who was a witness in the trial. Allred argued that it is unconstitutional to prevent an attorney representing a non-party witness from making public comments about the case.
But what about attorneys for the prosecution and the defense?
About 25 years ago, I represented a client who was implicated in a federal conspiracy involving expensive stolen jewelry and collectibles. After the indictment came down, the U.S. Attorney and F
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