For Disclosure & Reporting of Information Relating to Imminent or Pending Criminal Litigation
These voluntary guidelines reflect standards which bar and news media representatives believe are a reasonable means of accommodating, on a voluntary basis, the correlative constitutional rights of free speech and free press with the right of an accused to a fair trial. They are not intended to prevent the news media from inquiring into and reporting on the integrity, fairness, efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement, the administration of justice, or political or governmental questions whenever involved in the judicial process.
As a voluntary code, these guidelines do not necessarily reflect in all respects what the members of the bar or the news media believe would be permitted or required by law.
Information Generally Appropriate for Disclosure, Reporting
Generally, it is appropriate to disclose and report the following information:
Information Generally Not Appropriate for Disclosure, Reporting
Generally, it is not appropriate to disclose or report the following information because of the risk of prejudice to the right of a accused to a fair trial:
Prior Criminal Records
Lawyers and law enforcement personnel should not volunteer the prior criminal records of an accused except to aid in his/her apprehension or to warn the public of any dangers he/she presents. The news media can obtain prior criminal records from the public records of the courts, police agencies, and other governmental agencies and from their own files. The news media acknowledge, however, that publication or broadcast of an individual's criminal record can be prejudicial, and its publication or broadcast should be considered carefully, particularly after the filing of formal charges and as the time of the trial approaches, and such publication or broadcast should generally be avoided because readers, viewers, and listeners are potential jurors and an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Continuing Committee for Cooperation
The members of the bar and the news media recognize the desirability of continued joint efforts in attempting to resolve any areas of differences that may arise in their mutual objective of assuring to all Americans both the correlative constitutional rights to freedom of speech and press and to a fair trial. The bar and the news media, through their respective association, have determined to establish a permanent committee to revise these guidelines whenever this appears necessary or appropriate, to issue opinions as to their application to specific situations, to receive, evaluate and make recommendations with respect to complaints and to seek to effect through educational and other voluntary means a proper accommodation of the constitutional correlative rights of free speech, free press and fair trial.
This page was last modified on Monday, October 15, 2012