Academic journal article Journalism History

Spinning the Law: Trying Cases in the Court of Public Opinion

Academic journal article Journalism History

Spinning the Law: Trying Cases in the Court of Public Opinion

Article excerpt

Coffey, Kendall. Spinning the Law: Trying Cases in the Court of Public Opinion. Amherst, N. Y.: Prometheus Books, 2010. 404 pp. $26.

Kendall Coffey's Spinning the Law is a well-written book that reviews many of the most famous court cases ofthe past century. Among these are ones involving Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Martha Stewart, Scott Peterson, Gordon Libby, and Rod Blagojevich. He presents them through the lenses of the court of law and the court of public opinion with public relations playing a prominent role in the analysis because it is responsible for what the author calls spin. Coffey possesses a deep knowledge of these cases, and his participation in some of them allows him to include particularly fascinating perspectives of his own as well as other principal players in the cases.

He clearly understands the law and how public relations tactics can be used inside and outside of the courtroom to influence cases. Most ofthe cases, in fact, examine how the rulings in the court of public opinion have a dramatic effect on the rulings inside the court of law. This is not without issue, however.

While Coffey's understanding of public relations as a tool is practical, his use of the term spin to describe public relations work is not always accurate. In the context of this book, an effective spinner is a position to which one would aspire. But while this may be true for a lawyer, it certainly is not desirable as a public relations practitioner. …

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