Wolf: New policy a breath of fresh air

Sunday, February 1, 2009 12:34 AM EST

In the debate between free press and fair trial, Lake Orion attorney Allen M. Wolf has seen all sides.

He served as an assistant prosecutor under L. Brooks Patterson. Most of his work now is as a defense attorney. And he frequently works as an analyst for CBS Radio.

Wolf said Patterson ran a "pretty open office" and - unlike new Prosecutor Jessica Cooper - allowed his assistants to speak to the press about cases they were handling.

"Brooks felt he had a duty to the public," Wolf said.

But defense attorneys often challenged Patterson over pre-trial publicity. Wolf definitely believes pre-trial publicity - whether from prosecution or defense - influences potential jurors.

"There is a difference in private practice," he says. "I do find it a breath of fresh air for Cooper to take a more narrow view of (American Bar Association) Rule 3.6."

It is harmful to a client's defense when a prosecutor calls a press conference after a major crime.

Wolf, who is president of the Rochester Bar Association, noted that Cooper did not do so after the recent killing of an Oak Park police officer. In dealing with reporters who convey information to the public, Wolf said that as an assistant prosecutor he tried to provide accurate information.

"The reporter may not know the procedure and as a result may give inaccurate information to the public."

Wolf also notes that Rule 3.6 permits attorneys to share any information that is a matter of public record.

- Glenn Gilbert

URL: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/articles/2009/01/31/opinion/
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