In the sort of cases covered by this site, public relations overshadow substance all too often. For a glimpse of how even public servants — in this case the prosecutors of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office — are keeping a constant eye on the P.R. possibilities of their cases, consider this report from former Los Angeles Times reporter-turned-blogger, Kevin Roderick (LA Observed, "Rocky’s office defines what makes news," Dec. 22):
A recent email reminded all the lawyers in City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo’s criminal branch never to talk to reporters without clearance — and how they should recognize a newsworthy legal case. Public safety? Important public issue at stake? Nah, this is L.A.
Number one is any case involving a celebrity — ‘no matter how minor’ — followed closely by a politician. Death, mutilation, child molestation or animal cruelty are also sure bets.
Terrorism shows up as the tenth item on the list, slightly behind cases representing a "major personal accomplishment for the prosecutor" and not far ahead of cases involving "a truly weird fact pattern."
Roderick reproduces the entire long e-mail — repetitiously entitled "Improving Communications with the Communications Department" — which prescribes an elaborate protocol for keeping "’primary points of contact"’ within the Communications Department" [formerly the "Press Office"] informed as cases proceed, and concludes with a reminder that it pays to plan ahead, even before bringing charges:
[I]f you have a case that is very likely to attract media attention, such
as a celebrity justice case, you may want to obtain guidance from the
Communications Department in advance of the filing, arraignment, trial,
etc. regarding how to deal with expected press inquiries.
What a wonderful phrase: "Celebrity justice." Welcome to L.A.