Granting Interviews After Court Sittings Unethical, Justice Odili Cautions Lawyers

The Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Justice Mary Peter Odili (retd), on Wednesday, cautioned lawyers against addressing the media after court proceedings, describing the action as unethical.

She stated this on the second day of the Call to Bar Ceremony of 4,412 new lawyers in Abuja.

The retired justice of the Supreme Court also disclosed that a committee has been set up to address the worrisome issue of conflicting judgments of courts in the country.

She implored the newly sworn in lawyers to demonstrate the highest level of professional ethics and behave with honour at all times.

Justice Odili also urged the new lawyers to be honest, not to mislead the court, and abide by the judicial dress code.

She said it is unethical for lawyers to discuss and arrive at conclusions on matters pending before the court.

The Chairman of the Body of Benchers said, “One of the issues plaguing our dear country in recent times is the contentious and polarizing spectacle of media trial. The negative resultant effect of media trial is pre-judgement which can erode the foundational pillar of an individual’s right to a fair and unbiased trial.

“Lawyers who engage in media trial sway public opinion and potentially skew the trajectory of justice, sometimes turning the people against the court.

“It is unethical for lawyers to be addressing the media when fully robed, particularly after court sittings as we have seen in recent times.

“For the avoidance of doubt, it is unethical for lawyers to address the press on matters that are pending in court. Rule 33 of the Rules of Professional Conduct states: ‘a lawyer or law firm engaged in, or associated with the prosecution or defence of a criminal matter or associated with a civil action, shall not, while litigation is anticipated or pending in the matter, make, or participate in making any extrajudicial statement that is calculated to prejudiced or interfere with, or is reasonably capable of prejudicing or interfering with the fair trial of the matter or the judgement or sentence thereon’.

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“It is therefore also unethical for lawyers to be discussing and arriving at conclusions on matters pending before the court.”

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