The Norman Transcript

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November 14, 2013

High-profile attorney’s tactics rile Oklahoma County DA Prater

OKLAHOMA CITY — Attorney Jose Baez, who successfully defended a Florida mother accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, said Thursday that the media cannot be ignored in such high-profile cases.

“I would like to say that you can manage the media, but you can’t,” Baez said. “You have to sit down and come up with a media plan” before the trial even starts.

Baez’s assertion was challenged by Oklahoma County district attorney David Prater, who said the attention needs to be focused on the 12 jurors hearing a case, rather than trying the case in the media.

Prater and Baez were panelists at the Oklahoma Bar Association’s annual meeting that continues today in Oklahoma City.

Much of the panel discussion dealt with the murder case against pharmacist Jerome Ersland, who was convicted of shooting a robber a half dozen times.

OETA Managing Editor Dick Pryor moderated the panel in discussing “Media and the High-Profile Case.”

Prater chastised fellow prosecutors around the country who appear on television calling a defendant such things as “a monster,” even before a verdict is rendered.

Baez said the way the game works on the other side is police reports are made public as if they were the truth, while the defendant is only being accused via charges filed in a case.

KWTV News 9 reporter Adrianna Iwasinski told fellow panelists that the media has a job to do, which is to present information to the public about what is happening in a trial.

She acknowledged that it is hard for a television reporter to retell in a couple of minutes what has been presented over an eight-hour day in a courtroom. Iwasinski said she would like to have even two and half minutes on a story, but that rarely happens.

Iwasinski said many journalists strive to tell the story accurately, contrary to what the public might think. She said the editors decide how a trial should be covered, if at all.

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