Lawyer's prayerful social media posts draw judicial warning


DALLAS (AP) — A Texas defense attorney is being told to refrain from revealing details about ongoing trials in his prayerful posts on social media.

Attorney Mark Griffith asks online for God's providence and says he prays before and during a trial. He often invokes his clients as part of his prayer.

Judges in separate cases in Ellis County, south of Dallas, have warned him about postings that reveal details of court proceedings.

One post on the Facebook page for Waxahachie-based Griffith & Associates says, "I see God, directing me in my fights for justice. I see God in everything, including my clients. They are scorned, chastised, maligned and cast aside. These are the people Jesus sought out and helped."

Another post reads, "The jury simply needs to see the heart of my client, because that is where the grace of God resides."

In response to the posts, one of the judges has approved a motion by District Attorney Patrick Wilson that attorneys "refrain from making extrajudicial statements related to evidence of this trial, including electronic media."

But Griffith argues court restrictions could amount to an infringement of his constitutional rights.

"All I'm posting on social media is that I'm an attorney who prays before trial and prays during trial," he said, according to a transcript from a court hearing last week. "Now, to restrict me from doing that, I believe the state is asking the court to sanction a violation of my First Amendment right, freedom of speech and also freedom of religion."

Griffith did not return a call Wednesday seeking additional comment. He ultimately agreed to an order to refrain from "providing real-time assessments or evaluations."

Wilson also declined to comment to The Associated Press, but said in a court filing that Griffith's postings jeopardized proceedings.

"These postings either exposed details about the case that the jury on those particular cases was not entitled to hear or expressed person opinions about the proceedings that are inadmissible at trial," Wilson said.