It has been reported that a downstate Illinois attorney is facing a disciplinary complaint for posting police videos on YouTube and Facebook that he received as a defense attorney, through the course of discovery.
The attorney titled the videos “Cops and Task Force Planting Drugs – Part 1” and “Cops and Task Force Planting Drugs – Part 2.”
You may think, whats the matter with that? Don’t we live in a free country? If the attorney received videos in discovery that show police planting drugs, isn’t that something that should be shared in the public interest?
Two problems with that.
First, the Illinois Supreme Court has a rule that regulates discovery in criminal felony cases. It states:
(c) Custody of Materials. Any materials furnished to an attorney pursuant to these rules shall remain in his exclusive custody and be used only for the purposes of conducting his side of the case, and shall be subject to such other terms and conditions as the court may provide.
Personally, I disagree with this rule. Under this rule, I cannot give my client a copy of the police reports in his own case so that he can prepare his defense. This strikes me as a violation of my client’s Constitutional right to confront witnesses.
I also don’t see why the public shouldn’t be apprised when there is video evidence of police chicanery. It is in the public’s interest to know these things.
However, our Supreme Court has ruled otherwise, and until it changes this rule, it is not up to individual attorneys to act contrary to law.
The second problem is that the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct require that an attorney “shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and would pose a serious and imminent threat to the fairness of an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.” IL Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.6(a)
I have to quibble with this rule, too. If the attorney posted the entire video on YouTube (as opposed to a misleading snippet), how is that different from a news report. And if it is true that police are planting evidence, shouldn’t that take precedence over a criminal case?
Nevertheless, it is not up to me to make my own rules. I have to abide with the rules laid out by the Supreme Court and state legislature. So, until further notice, you won’t be seeing copies of any videos that I receive in discovery posted to this website. (I’ll have to continue to scour YouTube and Facebook and link to them!).