Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Mark Bennett wrote about reporter Jennifer Latson’s attempt to interview an accused criminal without approval from his lawyer. The suspect’s lawyer was not amused.
The lawyer wrote to the reporter requesting that she not talk to his client without first asking him.
Her response was “I’d refer you to the United States Constitution, Amendment I. I can attempt to interview your client until I’m blue in the face; he doesn’t have to agree to see me.”
I’m sure Latson is right about the basics, but that’s kind of a silly response. There’s no need to go all First Amendment on the lawyer. Everybody knows about the First Amendment, but it cuts both ways: The reporter can try to interview the suspect, but the lawyer can try to convince the reporter to knock it off. It seems like everybody’s just doing their jobs.
I don’t know, maybe the unnamed lawyer was rude about it, and Latson just responded in kind. I think I would have just ignored the lawyer’s request, or sent back a polite “thank you for your input” response, or maybe tried to use this as an opening to bounce a few questions off the lawyer. Then again, I’m not a professional journalist.
That is certainly true: a reporter can try to interview an accused person until she’s blue in the face (or until the jailers stop letting her in to the jail).
It seems like an excellent way to make sure the criminal defense bar is reluctant to talk to you about anything else, though.
Really? I don’t think member of the defense bar talk to reporters out of affection. They talk to reporters for the same reason every other media savvy person does: They want to influence the story.
As long as the reporter writes fair and accurate articles, I have trouble believing that any defense lawyer would pass on a chance to get his client’s story out if he thought it was important to do so.