PREP Discusses Prosecutorial Ethics @ Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office


Every year Miami Law’s Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program visits the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office to present a customized CLE ethics training that explores ethical dilemmas that confront prosecutors. This semester PREP director, Jan L. Jacobowitz, PREP fellow Haley Moss, and PREP interns Spencer Booth and Lilli Balik returned to the State Attorney’s Office to discuss ex parte communications, jurors’ use of social media, and dealing with reluctant or lying witnesses. Over one hundred assistant state attorneys attended the presentation prompting Miami-Dade’s State Attorney, Katherine Rundle, to tweet “Great turnout for the excellent prosecutorial ethics training."

Spencer Booth, Haley Moss & Lilli Balik

The PREP team designed and presented three interactive hypotheticals. Booth presented Act I, which featured various scenarios involving attorneys and judges interacting both in the courtroom and in the community.  These scenarios facilitated a lively conversation on what constitutes an impermissible ex parte communication with a judge and whether a judge should have Facebook friendships with attorneys.

“Speaking with the Miami-Dade assistant state attorneys about social media’s intersection with the practice of law and how it implicates the ethics of ex parte communications was a thrilling and educational experience,” said Booth.
Moss presented Act II, which raised issues related to lawyers investigating jurors on social media during the voir dire process, and monitoring a jury during trial. “I really enjoyed discussing the boundaries for investigating jurors and monitoring a jury on social media. Monitoring juries is becoming more common as social media’s influence in our culture continues to grow,” said Moss.
Balik presented Act III and introduced issues related to both the lying witnesses and the reluctant witness. “I really enjoyed speaking with the assistant state attorneys about the ethical approach to dealing with  a witness who lies on the stand,” said Balik.

PREP is an award-winning program that develops continuing legal education ethics training for the legal community. The program combines the attributes of an ethics institute and an ethics clinic, has dedicated hundreds of student hours to public service, and has educated thousands of members of the Bench & Bar. During training, students are often able to make a positive impact on attendees by prompting them to consider and reconsider their approaches to some of the toughest ethical dilemmas that may arise in the practice of law.
In 2012, PREP was recognized by the ABA with its E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award, the leading national award recognizing programs and projects contributing to the understanding and advancement of professionalism among lawyers and judges. In addition to presenting ethics training, throughout the semester PREP students publish blog posts regarding the nation’s newest ethics opinions. The blog, Legal Ethics in Motion, can be found here.