Court of Public Opinion | Reflections by President Richard H. Brodhead

September 29, 2007

Duke President Richard Brodhead's comments relating to the Duke Lacrosse case during The Court of Public Opinion conference.

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 to be examined during this two-day interdisciplinary conference. Experts from various fields will consider how the presence of certain core themes--including race, gender, class, and athletics--can turn an otherwise everyday case into a high-profile one. In so doing, they will examine the legal issues common to such cases, 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.

Recorded on September 29, 2007.

Lecture titled: Reflections.

Conference title: Court of Public Opinion: The Practice & Ethics of Trying Cases in the Media (2007)

Appearing: Dean David F. Levi (Duke Law), introductions; Richard H. Brodhead (Duke University), speaker.