While people who are engaged in legal matters in Florida may hope that the details of their cases will not get out, the very nature of legal coverage might make that impossible. Indeed, in an effort to ensure clarity and transparency, state law allows many legal proceedings to be covered by the media. Such coverage, however, is purposely limited. Per the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, no more than one still photographer, one television camera and one audio broadcasting system may be present during judicial proceedings.
Attorneys themselves are also tools that those engaged in legal cases should be able to rely on to keep important information confidential. Not only can allowing information to go public violate a client’s privacy, it can also prejudice people who might be called upon to hear their case. Thus, guidelines have been established to help attorneys and clients in dealing with trial publicity.
Rule 3.6 of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct states that an attorney participating in a case may not make any statements they know will (or might reasonably expect to be) disseminated through forms of public communication that could potentially affect the matter’s adjudication. When asked for information, an attorney is authorized to divulge the following:
- The claim or case at hand, along with the names of those involved (provided it is permitted by law)
- Any information that is of public record
- A statement indicating that an investigation is in progress
- A schedule of litigation
- Petitions for assistance in obtaining evidence or information relative to a case
- If there is concern about a risk to the public’s welfare, a warning regarding the behavior of the individual(s) involved
In criminal matters, an attorney is also allowed to publicly share certain details about both the accused and investigators.