United States District Court

Northern District Of Illinois

Local Rules

LR83.53.6. Trial Publicity

(a) A lawyer shall not make an extrajudicial statement the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is likely to be disseminated by public media and, if so disseminated, would pose a serious and imminent threat to the fairness of an adjudicative proceeding.

(b) A statement referred to in section (a) ordinarily is likely to have such an effect when it refers to a civil matter triable to a jury, a criminal matter, or any other proceeding that could result in incarceration, and the statement relates to:

(1) the prior criminal record (including arrests, indictments or other charges of crime), the character or reputation of the accused, or any opinion as to the accused’s guilt or innocence, as to the merits of the case, or as to the evidence in the case;

(2) the existence or contents of a statement given by the accused, or the refusal or failure of the accused to make a statement;

(3) the performance of an examination or test of the accused or the accused’s refusal or failure to submit to an examination or test;

(4) the identity, testimony, or credibility of prospective witnesses;

(5) the possibility of a plea of guilty to or other disposition of the offense charged; or

(6) information that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know would be inadmissible as evidence in a trial.

(c) Notwithstanding sections (a) and (b), a lawyer involved in the investigation or litigation of a matter may state without elaboration:

(1) the general nature of the claim or defense;

(2) the information contained in a public record;

(3) that an investigation of the matter is in progress, including the general scope of the investigation, the offense, claim or defense involved, and, except when prohibited by law, the identity of the persons involved;

(4) the scheduling or result of any step in litigation;

(5) a request for assistance in obtaining evidence and information;

(6) a warning of danger concerning the behavior of a person involved, when the lawyer reasonably believes that there exists the likelihood of substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest; and

(7) in a criminal case:

(A) the identity, residence, occupation, and family status of the accused,

(B) if the accused has not been apprehended, information necessary to aid in apprehension of that person,

(C) the fact, time, and place of arrest, and

(D) the identity of investigating and arresting officers or agencies and the length of the investigation.

Committee Comment. It is difficult to strike a balance between protecting the right to a fair trial and safeguarding the right of free expression. Preserving the right to a fair trial necessarily entails some curtailment of the information that may be disseminated about a party prior to trial, particularly where trial by jury is involved. If there were no such limits, the result would be the practical nullification of the protective effect of the rules of forensic decorum and the exclusionary rules of evidence. On the other hand, there are vital social interests served by the tree dissemination of information about events having legal consequences and about legal proceedings themselves. The public has a right to know about threats to its safety and measures aimed at assuring its security. It also has a legitimate interest in the conduct of judicial proceedings, particularly in matters of general public concern. Furthermore, the subject matter of legal proceedings is often of direct significance in debate and deliberation over questions of public policy.

No body of rules can simultaneously satisfy all interests of fair trial and all those of free expression. The formula in this Rule is based upon the Code of Professional Responsibility, the ABA Standards Relating to Fair Trial and Free Press (as amended in 1978), and the decision in Chicago Council of Lawyers v. Bauer, 522 F.2d 242 (7th Cir. 1975).

Special rules of confidentiality may validly govern proceedings in juvenile, domestic relations and mental disability proceedings, and perhaps other types of litigation.