Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune: Still Reporting on the Matthew Stewart Case, Sometimes Badly - Updated

Just to set the record straight, here are the basic rules for Utah lawyers regarding pretrial publicity, folks

We'll highlight two more news items in the fast developing 1/4/12 Ogden shootout case, both of which appeared on the Salt Lake Tribune website during the past couple of days, which stories we''ll reel off in reverse chronological order below:

1) The Trib reports this morning that 2d District Court Judge Hyde has stepped up to the plate, in an apparent attempt to help regulate the two sets of attorneys in this case, who've evidenced a painfully obvious lack of cooperation and coordination which to date has resembled, with respect to law and motion and discovery procedure, frankly, a "Chinese Fire Drill" :
In effect, Judge Hyde has now set up a sort of formal defense counsel chain of command, requiring private attorney Randy Richards to clear any further motions and related discovery requests through appointed public defender William Albright, who thus becomes the judicially ordered defacto lead counsel in this matter. Although Attorney Richards might not agree with our assessment in this regard, we'll applaud Judge Hyde's obvious creativity in re this matter. In spite of Judge Hyde's possible inclinations to simply remove Mr. Richards from his position of Defendant Stewart's chosen lawyer in this case, we believe that Judge Hyde has instead adopted a thoughtful and Solomanesque, "middle of the road" solution, which will in the long run not only honor Defendant Stewart's preferred defense lawyer preference, but will at the same time keep the other two publicly appointed defense lawyers working on a zealous defense of this matter, rather than copping an early "plea deal." No, this is NOT the perfect solution. Yes, it's better than the alternative, which would be to see Judge Hyde remove Mr. Richards from the case.

2) For sake of archival consistency, we'll now refer to yesterdays lame Trib Story, wherein (rookie?) Trib reporter Aaron Falk wrongly creates the impression that "modern developments" have created a scenario where prosecution and defense counsel are somehow free to cavalierly "try their cases in the press" with no holds barred:
Just to set the record straight, here are the basic rules for Utah lawyers regarding pretrial publicity, folks, along with telling excerpts. Despite Mr. Falk's oddball story, the traditional rules, which require restraint on the part of legal counsel, still apply during litigation in Utah courts:

Utah Rules of Professional Conduct , Rule 3.6. Trial Publicity:
(a) A lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.

Rule 3.6. Trial Publicity
Utah Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.8. Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor:
The prosecutor in a criminal case shall: (e) Exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6.

Rule 3.8. Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor
State Bar Rules - Article 3. Standards of Professionalism and Civility:
A lawyer's conduct should be characterized at all times by personal courtesy and professional integrity in the fullest sense of those terms. In fulfilling a duty to represent a client vigorously as lawyers, we must be mindful of our obligations to the administration of justice, which is a truth-seeking process designed to resolve human and societal problems in a rational, peaceful, and efficient manner. We must remain committed to the rule of law as the foundation for a just and peaceful society.

Conduct that may be characterized as uncivil, abrasive, abusive, hostile, or obstructive impedes the fundamental goal of resolving disputes rationally, peacefully, and efficiently. Such conduct tends to delay and often to deny justice.

3. Lawyers shall not, without an adequate factual basis, attribute to other counsel or the court improper motives, purpose, or conduct. Lawyers should avoid hostile, demeaning, or humiliating words in written and oral communications with adversaries. Neither written submissions nor oral presentations should disparage the integrity, intelligence, morals, ethics, or personal behavior of an adversary unless such matters are directly relevant under controlling substantive law.

Article 3. Standards of Professionalism and Civility
Fascinating to compare the rules with the heretofor demonstrated conduct, Innit?

Update 3/7/12 5:30 p.m.: The Standard-Examiner is all over the defense counsel reshuffling story, too:
Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones.


BJPBJP said...

This moron Aaron Falk shouls be fired by the Trib immediately!

Momo Boy said...

 Fascinating to compare the rules with the demonstrated conduct, Innit?
Hypocrisy is definitely pandemic in Utah, no?

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