Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Filmmaking, Novel Writing and Pretrial Publicity Redemption

This week in California, the hot topic in the legal industry is whether a prosecutor’s consulting with the makers of a major motion picture “Alpha Dog” based on a criminal defendant’s story creates a conflict sufficient to require recusal. Gina Rubel published her two cents on this topic on The Legal Intelligencer’s Blog.

Details about the court case can be found in Dan Slater’s article Are Books and Movies the Right Venue for Prosecutors’ Cases? of the Wall Street Journal. Slater writes that matters such as this continue the “age-old debate over whether it’s proper for prosecutors to try their cases in the news media.”

Adam Liptak of the New York Times also writes on the case in his recent article, When Literary and Prosecutorial License Collide. He writes about the Hollywood case and a second decision this week where Santa Barbara prosecutor Joyce Dudley published a novel with similarities to a rape case that she was trying. The appeals court also disqualified Dudley, but the decision of the same Supreme Court reversed that.

As Gina said in her blog for The Legal Intelligencer, “I believe that as long as we abide by the guidelines set forth in the various rules of professional responsibility and attorneys conduct strategic and solid voir dire, then the public has a right to know. In this case, Hollywood was a fugitive. Telling his story in a movie is no different than telling it on ‘America’s Most Wanted.’ In fact, the movie may have helped lead to his capture.”

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