Lowering the bar: Privileged court filings as substitutes for press releases in the court of public opinion

Samuel A. Tebilli, Sigman L. Splichal, Paul J. Driscol

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the civil lawsuit against Kobe Bryant for sexual assault, the judge admonished lawyers for engaging in "public relations litigation" - the use of pleadings to attract media attention and try cases in the court of public opinion. This article examines the legal ramifications of such practices and the doctrines of law that encourage some lawyers and litigants to use pleadings as a form of press release. These include the law of republication and the fair report and judicial privileges as well as the power of judges to gag trial participants. The article concludes that courts have adequate tools to control such practices, and lawyers and public relations professionals can responsibly use court documents to communicate with the public, so long as they do not abuse the judicial process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-175
Number of pages33
JournalCommunication Law and Policy
Volume12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Law

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