RULE 19-303.6. TRIAL PUBLICITY (3.6)
West's Annotated Code of MarylandMaryland Rules
MD Rules Attorneys, Rule 19-303.6
RULE 19-303.6. TRIAL PUBLICITY (3.6)
(a) An attorney who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the attorney knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.
(c) Notwithstanding section (a) of this Rule, an attorney may make a statement that a reasonable attorney would believe is required to protect a client from the substantial undue prejudicial effect of recent publicity not initiated by the attorney or the attorney's client. A statement made pursuant to this section shall be limited to such information as is necessary to mitigate the recent adverse publicity.
 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 free 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.
 Special rules of confidentiality may validly govern proceedings in juvenile, domestic relations and mental disability proceedings, and perhaps other types of litigation. Rule 19-303.4 (c) (3.4) requires compliance with such rules.
 The Rule sets forth a basic general prohibition against an attorney's making statements that the attorney knows or should know will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding. Recognizing that the public value of informed commentary is great and the likelihood of prejudice to a proceeding by the commentary of an attorney who is not involved in the proceeding is small, the rule applies only to attorneys who are, or who have been involved in the investigation or litigation of a case, and their associates.
 Section (b) of this Rule identifies specific matters about which an attorney's statements would not ordinarily be considered to present a substantial likelihood of material prejudice, and should not in any event be considered prohibited by the general prohibition of section (a) of this Rule. Section (b) of this Rule is not intended to be an exhaustive listing of the subjects upon which an attorney may make a statement, but statements on other matters may be subject to section (a) of this Rule.
 There are, on the other hand, certain subjects that are more likely than not to have a material prejudicial effect on a proceeding, particularly when they refer to a civil matter triable to a jury, a criminal matter, or any other proceeding that could result in incarceration. These subjects relate to:
 Another relevant factor in determining prejudice is the nature of the proceeding involved. Criminal jury trials will be most sensitive to extrajudicial speech. Civil trials may be less sensitive. Non-jury hearings and arbitration proceedings may be even less affected. The Rule will still place limitations on prejudicial comments in these cases, but the likelihood of prejudice may be different depending on the type of proceeding.
 Finally, extrajudicial statements that might otherwise raise a question under this Rule may be permissible when they are made in response to statements made publicly by another party, another party's attorney, or third persons, where a reasonable attorney would believe a public response is required in order to avoid prejudice to the attorney's client. When prejudicial statements have been publicly made by others, responsive statements may have the salutary effect of lessening any resulting adverse impact on the adjudicative proceeding. Such responsive statements should be limited to contain only such information as is necessary to mitigate undue prejudice created by the statements made by others.
 See Rule 19-303.8 (e) (3.8) for additional duties of prosecutors in connection with extrajudicial statements about criminal proceedings.
Model Rules Comparison: Rule 19-303.6 (3.6) is substantially similar to the language of the Ethics 2000 Amendments to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
[Adopted June 6, 2016, eff. July 1, 2016.]
MD R Attorneys, Rule 19-303.6, MD R ATTORNEYS Rule 19-303.6
Current with amendments received through May 1, 2022. Some sections may be more current, see credits for details.
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