Lawyers are not publicists

Lawyers are not publicists (So don’t do it)

In a puzzling interview, from my perspective as a defense lawyer, Robert Bates along with his attorney gave a full confession to manslaughter on national TV. That’s right, with the assistance of his lawyer who sat next to him, he aloud his client to answer questions from Matt Lauer of the Today Show.  These questions were in regards to the incident where Mr. Bates shot and killed Eric Harris during a police under cover operation.  Mr. Bates was already charged with second-degree manslaughter from this incident and his lawyer accompanied him on national TV just days after the incident. Can’t help but think of the expression “Loose lips sink ships”.

This was another case where the incident was captured on video, this time by police.  In what looked like a carefully orchestrated PR campaign, Mr. Bates sat with his wife by his side and his two daughters behind him.  He wanted to talk about how he was a cancer survivor, which Matt Lauer completely ignored and went straight into how could you make a mistake of using your gun instead of a taser.  He didn’t stop there, Matt asked him to demonstrate where the taser was located on his body in relation to his service pistol and they are not even close.  I’m typically not a big fan of these types of interviews but this was pretty good, from a prosecution point of view and disastrous in defending the case.  If you think Matt was harsh (I don’t) can you imagine what a competent prosecutor would do if he testified.  Not only did Mr. Bates admit to the elements of the crime, he gave a demonstration on TV of how he did it.  There was a prosecutor jumping for joy somewhere in the country when they saw this interview.

As a defense attorney you would never let your client give a demonstration unless you are controlling the demonstration (even then highly questionable – think O.J Simpson case that lead to the most famous line in trial history “If the glove don’t fit you must acquit.”)

This begs the question, why do we see lawyers willingly place their clients on TV so soon after a major incident, especially one that results in the killing of another?  Criminal defense lawyers are not publicists nor should they engage in such activities. You should not try to control the narrative of the case on TV or any media outlet for that matter because the likelihood of doing harm to your client is just to high, not to mention your credibility and that of your clients can be ruined in an instant. We are afforded the right to remain silent and every defense lawyer worth his or her salt will tell there clients over and over, exercise that right, for the love of God.

Charleston Criminal Defense Lawyer

Dale Savage is an experienced and trusted criminal defense lawyer Charleston, SC at the Dale Savage Law Firm, call today for a free case consultation (843) 530-7813.

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