Political and High Profile Cases
When a case is widely reported in the media, an accused person can easily feel that they have less chance of a fair trial. Coverage from TV and tabloid newspapers can be particularly intrusive, and paparazzi are often waiting outside court and even the house of a defendant where they have decided that the case is politically significant.
Press involvement in justice is important, because justice must be transparent in society. However, irresponsible journalism is a problem, and it can ultimately make the life of an accused person very difficult, even if they are ultimately proven innocent. It can also prejudice a jury if they are exposed to misleading statements in the press.
Mary Monson solicitors have dealt with many high profile cases over the last thirty years, and in just the last twelve months, cases we have been involved in have been reported nationally and internationally in the press. But our only concern is the protection of our clients, who are sometimes vulnerable, and we have experience in being sensitive in helping our clients and their families overcome difficult times during legal proceedings.
Any criminal lawyer can claim to have expertise in different types of criminal case. We have included here a case study to give some idea of how we prepare our cases.
Hijab MP3 Juror
Our client was the alleged “Hijab MP3 Juror”, a young Muslim student, who was accused of listening to her MP3 player under her headscarf while a juror on a murder trial. She had been dismissed from the jury by the judge, and he referred the case to the Attorney General to prosecute her for contempt of court. The tabloids, and even the BBC seized upon this case as a major racial issue, which it clearly was not.
Even the prosecution junior barrister from the murder trial made irresponsible and inappropriate comment to the press, adding to this young girl’s problems in achieving a fair trial.
In fact, our client could show that her MP3 player was unplugged, and that she simply had the earphones in because taking off her headscarf to remove them was a difficult and time-consuming.
We refused to advise a plea of guilty, and thoroughly prepared her defence.
During the journeys to court, we prepared decoys and alternative entries and exits for our client so that she evaded the media circus waiting for her.
After pre-trial issues with the defence, the prosecution dropped the case against our client before it reached trial.
Strategy and Client Care in Political and Sensitive Cases
There is no set technical strategy for dealing with cases which attract media attention, as any criminal case can be covered in the news. A client should be able to expect from his or her legal team that they show belief, dedication, and sensitivity. In short, a solicitor must be protective of his or her client, both in and out of court.