Everything is public on a grand scale and very little escapes commentary in some form or other. So when it comes to the justice system and how defendants – or potential defendants – approach cases, it’s not surprising for PR firms to join the fray.
In cases such as convicted murderer Richard Glossip facing execution this month in Oklahoma City, the new defense team, Don R. Knight of Colorado held a press conference. There, they informed the public they have new evidence that the key witness and convicted killer lied during Glossip’s trial and has since bragged about it to prison mates. The press conference was to urge the Governor to grant a 60-day stay of execution so the evidence can be researched further.
The District Attorney, David Prater, scoffed at the hour-long press conference saying it was nonsense – and called it a Bull**it Public Relations campaign. He also pointed out that if the defense team had such evidence, the proper thing is to file it with the court, not skip that step and start with a press conference.
Bullsh!t Public Relations Campaign In Court of Law Dismissed As The Court of Law & The Court of Public Opinion Continue To Overlap
Glossip was convicted for a murder that happened in 1997. The victim was a family man with children, and many people feel the family of the victim has waited long enough. And now, with today’s ruling the stay of execution has been dismissed – yet it cannot be denied that public relations efforts are changing the way things are done in the legal system.
In a very different case in Chappaqua, New York at Horace Greeley High School, the school has consulted and allegedly hired a New York City PR firm. This, as they face the nightmare of their rumors attached to their theater teacher about inappropriate behavior with students.
The teacher ultimately resigned from the school, but there are ongoing issues whenever minors are involved. The school board acted as soon as rumors hit their office, canceling the final performance of their end-of-the-school-year show including the accused teacher in some parts of the show.
A few days after consulting with the PR firm, the principal, Robert Rhodes, sent an email to teachers and others outlining questions they may face with approved responses. He also contacted the parents and students offering for any students who were strongly affected by the rumors the opportunity for counseling and to opt out of finals. Even opting out retroactively if they felt it appropriate. The school has often been considered one of the top 25 high schools in the U.S. and they want to safeguard their reputation as well as the students.
All inquiries from the media about students and their family have been answered with a simple statement that the school does not respond to questions about minors or the personal lives of others. Again, PR has a role in the way this story is unfolding on the legal front.
The court of law & the court of public opinion both matter.