Court of Public Opinion

About this Site

What catapults a case into the media spotlight? Who is responsible for focusing media and public attention on a particular case? Once a case gains high-profile status, what are the professional and ethical roles and responsibilities of members of the media, the bar, and the institutions involved? How do media balance their First Amendment right to watch over the operation of government with the rights of the accused?

These are the questions examined during a two-day, interdisciplinary conference held at the Duke University School of Law: The Court of Public Opinion. Experts from various fields examined the legal issues common to cases in the media spotlight, including First Amendment rights of free speech and of the press; ethical rules governing prosecutors, defense counsel, judges, and journalists; the desirability of public access to and scrutiny of the justice system; and the needs of institutions and individuals to defend themselves and their reputations in the face of intense public and media scrutiny.

This site has been created to serve as a repository of information from that conference, to track high-profile cases as examples of the themes discussed at the conference, and to provide a starting point for those hoping to research and/or teach about topics related to media law.