Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt has been reprimanded by the N.C. State Bar for talking too freely with the media about Robeson County deputies accused of corruption in the Tarnished Badge scandal.
The State Bar licenses lawyers in North Carolina and punishes them when it finds they have breached their code of ethics. Britt’s reprimand was issued Nov. 19 by the Bar’s Grievance Committee and announced this month by the Bar in a list of lawyers who have been punished recently.
In the reprimand, Grievance Committee Chairman James Fox told Britt that after the deputies in Tarnished Badge were indicted in 2006, “you made numerous statements and comments containing details about the matters which were not in the public realm at that point, or expressing your opinion regarding guilt of the accused men, to representatives of a least one media outlet and/or to the public.”
These statements violated two rules, Fox said. One rule bars a lawyer who took part in an investigation or lawsuit from making public statements that could prejudice a trial. The other rule says a prosecutor may not make statements publicly that “have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.” The reprimand includes a $50 fine.