Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Zimmerman Trial - Attorney Etiquette in and out of the Courtroom

The George Zimmerman Trial began recently, and defense counsel Don West has already received criticism for a poor choice in how to begin his opening statement. The current issue Mr. West faces? Criticizing a witness for the prosecution via his daughter's Instagram account. The prosecution has requested a formal inquiry for the nature of the comments, but it also seems to have been a poor choice to broadcast opinions about witnesses via such a public medium.

But can an attorney face discipline or sanctions for the actions of his or her child? If you're researching this issue, you might try looking for recent ethics opinions from state agencies governing attorney discipline, since the medium (Instagram) is fairly new. You might also try thinking about the issue in old-school terms: look for opinions or cases in which an attorney was disciplined for the actions of someone he or she had authority over, regardless of whether that actor was using a telephone, fax machine, telegraph, or good old fashioned pen and paper.