Internet Law

Did defense lawyer's Facebook prayers disclose too much trial information? He objects to gag orders

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A criminal defense lawyer in Texas says two judges have issued orders banning his Facebook prayers, a violation of his First Amendment rights to freedom of religion and speech.

Lawyer Mark Griffith blames District Attorney Patrick Wilson of Ellis County for requesting the gag orders, report the Dallas Morning News and KRLD.

Griffith tells the Dallas Morning News that his posts are intended to show his followers that they don’t need to lose faith in the justice system, and that “lawyers hit their knees and ask for guidance.” And he says he will appeal the judges’ orders. “I am not going to give up my faith,” he tells KRLD.

But Wilson says the judges didn’t ban Griffith from praying online. Instead, the orders merely barred Griffith from providing “a real time narration of events” at trial, Wilson says.

“No lawyer is allowed to make running commentary in the public forum regarding witnesses, the character of witnesses, the opinion of the guilt or innocence of defendants or suspects in criminal cases,” Wilson tells KRLD.

The Dallas Morning News includes some of Griffith’s posts, including this one:

“I was in court yesterday cross-examining the witness who accused my innocent client. I got stuck for a second and was at a lost for the right questions to get to the truth. So, I said a prayer. It was answered immediately and we got to the truth.”

In another post, Griffith wrote:

“Day 3 of trial to start at 9 a.m. The jury simply needs to see the heart of my client, because that is where the grace of God resides. I need his heart to speak to their heart and I need to speak to their heart without all the impressive legal terms we learned in law school. Just people talking about what resides in their heart … and I am praying wisdom, mercy and compassion still have a place there.”

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