Editorial : Influence of litigation PR tactics on verdict merits attention

【明報專訊】SENTENCED TO IMPRISONMENT after he was found guilty of "misconduct in public office", former Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has been ordered to pay $5 million in litigation costs. In his judgement, Mr. Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai reprimanded Tsang's public relations company for lining up famous and prominent figures to sit in the courtroom late into the trial with the intention of persuading the jury "through the back door" that Tsang was a "good person" supported by people across the social spectrum. Though Mr. Justice Chan's judgement has been controversial, what truly merits attention is the fact that the rich and powerful, counting on their connections, wealth and positions, have been trying to influence the jury with PR tactics. Tactics employed by PR firms in litigation are numerous and often fall within the legal grey area. While these practices are not in violation of the law, they are detrimental to how citizens perceive fairness and justice in law, and as such are inevitably the subject of criticism for moral reasons. Society and the jury should beware of such PR tactics employed in litigation.