Media Policy

As prosecutors we have a duty to make sure that each and every individual charged with a crime is treated fairly and in accordance with the law and the Constitution. We also have a responsibility to ensure that the public that we serve is informed of the how criminal cases are being handled as they move through the justice system.  The media usually works to see to it that, as important cases are heard, the public is kept abreast of how the case is resolving.  To do this they call our office regularly to get as much information as they can.  We do our best to share the information that we can with the press and the public but our ability to discuss pending criminal cases is strictly limited by the need to protect the defendant’s right to a trial that is not tainted by excessive, adverse publicity.  All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but that presumption can be quickly eroded by an onslaught of negative press coverage.

As lawyers, we are bound to follow the rules of ethical conduct prescribed by the South Carolina Supreme Court. Violations can result in sanctions or even disbarment. Included in the rules are two sections that specifically focus on the issue of pretrial publicity.

Rule 3.6 of the South Carolina Rules of Professional Responsibility prohibits any attorney from making statements out of court that he knows or should know could be broadcast to the public and will result in affecting the public’s perception of the case in a manner adverse to their opponents case.  This rule applies to all lawyers including the defendant’s attorney.

Rule 3.8 is a rule that applies specifically to prosecutor’s and it prohibits any prosecutor from, among other things, doing anything or saying anything that would result in “heightening public condemnation of the accused.” It requires that I do all I can to ensure that the accused’s right to a fair trial is not undermined by negative press. The defendant in a criminal case has the right to have their case tried in court, not in the press.

While it may be frustrating to the public and the media when information that they would like to have is not provided by our office, it is important to make sure that the rules are followed so that the jury’s verdict in any case is based on credible, admissible evidence rather than the passion evoked by inflammatory and sometimes inaccurate news stories.  It is also important to me that we keep our law licenses so that we can continue to serve the public as your solicitors.

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16th Circuit Solicitor's Office
16th Circuit Solicitor's Office7 days ago

Yesterday, Derrick Cook was sentenced to eighteen years for breaking into a York County man’s house in the middle of the night and duct-taping and assaulting him.

Cook was scheduled for trial but pleaded guilty to a range of fifteen years...