Retired Justice Odili Cautions Lawyers Against Media Comments, Says it Unethical

In the  Call to Bar Ceremony in Abuja, the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Justice Mary Peter Odili (retd), issued a stern warning to lawyers, advising against addressing the media after court proceedings.
She labeled such actions as unethical and emphasized the importance of upholding professional standards.
The retired Supreme Court justice delivered this message on the second day of the ceremony, attended by 4,412 newly sworn-in lawyers.
Justice Odili stressed the need for legal practitioners to refrain from discussing ongoing cases with the media, highlighting the ethical considerations associated with such engagements.
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’.
“It is therefore also unethical for lawyers to be discussing and arriving at conclusions on matters pending before the court.”
Furthermore, Justice Odili shared insights into the efforts being made to address the issue of conflicting judgments from different courts across the country. She revealed the establishment of a committee dedicated to resolving this concern, aiming to enhance consistency within the judicial system.
In her address to the new lawyers, Justice Odili urged them to exemplify the highest standards of professional ethics throughout their careers. She emphasized the significance of conducting themselves with honor and integrity, reminding them of their responsibilities as legal practitioners.
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