Litigation by Media and Congress

For some years now, primarily relating to Iraq/Afghanistan cases there has been lots of litigation by media and congress.  The current move to save the SEALs by congress is just the most recent example of seeking to influence a court-martial case.  The “litigation” has been both for and against the military member.  We all remember the issue of Congressman Murtha calling for prosecution of a Marine for alleged misconduct.  Whether such litigation is good for the system and the UCMJ is a different question.  In this day and age of millisecond journalism and sound-bites here are a couple of thoughts and a caution.  LawProf blog has posted:

Laurie L. Levenson (Loyola Law School Los Angeles) has posted Prosecutorial Soundbites: When Do They Cross the Line? (Georgia Law Review, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Even good prosecutors can cross the line with media soundbites. Especially in high-profile cases, prosecutors must assess if their pretrial remarks about a case meet their ethical obligations. In Gentile v. Nevada State Bar, 501 U.S. 1030 (1991), the United States Supreme Court held that while lawyers have the First Amendment right to make comments to the press, they do not have the right to make comments that have a “substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding.” Although ethical codes have adopted this broad standard, many have failed to identify more specifically when a prosecutor’s remarks pose a substantial likelihood of having such a prejudicial effect. Using 28 C.F.R. § 50.2 as a guide, this article seeks to identify those “hot-button” areas.

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