Justice Odili Warns Lawyers Against Post-Court Interviews

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During the Call to Bar Ceremony in Abuja, Justice Mary Peter Odili (retd), Chairman of the Body of Benchers, addressed 4,412 newly sworn-in lawyers, emphasizing the importance of professional ethics and decorum within the legal profession.

She highlighted the unethical nature of lawyers granting interviews to the media after court proceedings, stating that such actions could compromise the integrity of ongoing cases and undermine the judicial process.

Meanwhile,Justice Odili also announced the formation of a committee tasked with addressing the issue of conflicting judgments across Nigerian courts, underscoring the need for consistency and fairness in legal rulings.

Also,she Urged the new lawyers to uphold honesty, integrity, and adherence to the judicial dress code, she emphasized the detrimental impact of media trials on public opinion and the pursuit of justice.

Quoting Rule 33 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, Justice Odili reiterated the prohibition against lawyers making extrajudicial statements that could prejudice ongoing litigation, emphasizing the importance of respecting the integrity of the legal process.

she reiterated that such conduct is unacceptable and urged legal practitioners to refrain from discussing or drawing conclusions on matters pending before the court.

“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.”

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“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.”

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