Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada case brief

Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada case brief summary
501 U.S. 1030 (1991)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Petitioner appealed judgment of the Nevada Supreme Court finding him in violation of Nev. Sup. Crt. R. 177 for pretrial press conference comments, arguing disciplinary action violated his U.S. Constitutional Amendment I rights.

CASE FACTS
Petitioner, an attorney, held a press conference six months before client's criminal trial; petitioner asserted client's innocence and that police corruption defense would be used. After client's acquittal - in a trial at which neither side sought a change of venue or venire - state bar brought disciplinary charges against petitioner, alleging a violation of Nev. Sup. Crt. R. 177's prohibition on pretrial extrajudicial statements by attorneys. Petitioner was disciplined, and appealed, arguing violation of his U.S. Constitutional Amendment I rights.

DISCUSSION
  • Supreme Court reversed the disciplinary action.
  • The court held - in a pair of splintered opinions - that although states are permitted to restrict attorney speech which has a substantial likelihood of prejudicing pending legal proceedings, Rule 177 was void for vagueness inasmuch as it tended to mislead attorneys into believing that a general discussion of the criminal defense, without elaboration, will not subject them to discipline.

CONCLUSION

Judgment reversed; although states are permitted to restrict attorney speech which has a substantial likelihood of prejudicing pending legal proceedings, Rule 177 was void for vagueness.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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