Here, almost in its entirety, is noted legal ethicist Monroe Freedman’s post on the The Legal Ethics Forum, regarding Special Prosecutor Angela Corey’s outrageously unethical press conference. I was going to post on this myself, but I could not improve on Prof. Freedman, which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his career and contributions to legal ethics theory. His title was “Trayvon Martin, Angela Corey, and Prosecutors’ Ethics.” When I read it, the only thing I could say was “Bingo!” From here on, it is all Monroe:
“Special Prosecutor Angela Corey used her press conference to establish three things.
“First, her investigative team… “worked tirelessly” in a “never-ending search for the truth and a quest to always do the right thing for the right reason.” We are “not only ministers of justice,” we are “seekers of the truth,” and we “stay true to that mission.”
“Second, Ms. Corey and her team…were able to establish “the facts” and “the truth” through an “extensive” and “full investigation” has “the search for justice for Trayvon … brought us to this night” (i.e., the press conference announcing the filing of charges).
“Third, Ms. Corey would not have filed charges until her team had established beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman is guilty, and they had eliminated all affirmative defenses, including excusable or justifiably homicide.
Florida Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8, comment: “Florida has adopted the American Bar Association Standards of Criminal Justice Relating to the Prosecution Function. This is the product of prolonged and careful deliberation by lawyers experienced in criminal prosecution and defense and should be consulted for further guidance.”
ABA Standards. 3-1.4(a): “A prosecutor should not make … an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication, if the prosecutor … reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of prejudicing a criminal proceeding.” Comment to 3.1: “the opinion of the lawyer on the guilt of the defendant, the merits of the case, or the merits of the evidence in the case” is “ordinarily likely to have a substantial likelihood of prejudicing a criminal proceeding.”
“Corey: ‘We know only one category as prosecutors, and that is a ‘V.’ It’s not a ‘B,’ it’s not a ‘W,’ it’s not an ‘H.’ It’s ‘V,’ for victim. That’s who we work tirelessly for. And that’s all we know, is justice for our victims.’ Corey also referred to “our precious victims.”
ABA Standard 3-2.1, comment: “The idea that the criminal law … is designed to vindicate public rather than private interests is now firmly established.”
ABA Standard. 3-3.2, comment: “The prosecutor’s client is not the victim.”
“Corey: ‘The first thing my team and I did upon being appointed was to meet with Trayvon’s family and pray with them…We opened our meeting with prayer.” Also, Ms. Corey thanked “all those people across this country who have sent positive energy and prayers our way,” and she asked them to continue to pray for Trayvon’s family and for her team. “Remember, it is Trayvon’s family that are our constitutional victims….”
Prof Freedman then asks why we need to bother with a trial at all, given the prosecutor’s announced certainty of Zimmerman’s guilt, and her solidarity with the deceased and his parents.