Michael Grieco is many things: a criminal defense lawyer with knack for landing high-profile celebrity cases, a media talking head who provides legal analysis of the day’s biggest news, and a newly-minted Miami Beach commissioner.
So when pop star Justin Bieber got cuffed in Miami Beach, Grieco figured: who better to discuss the case than he?
“Justin Bieber Arrest: Miami Beach Commissioner and Criminal Defense Attorney Available for Comment,” read a notice sent out by the lawyer’s media handler.
That raises questions about whether Grieco was using his elected office as a personal selling point.
Nova Southeastern University law professor Bob Jarvis called Grieco’s move “unseemly” but said that he’s probably not in violation of any ethics rules.
"I can't really think of a rule that would prohibit him from factually stating that he is a Miami Beach city commissioner," Jarvis said.
In fact, Jarvis said that the Supreme Court has ruled that lawyers and public officials don’t lose their first amendment rights simply because of their profession or public office.
Grieco, who has also previously worked as a state prosecutor, stressed that he won’t have any direct involvement in the Bieber case -- despite reports to the contrary, and a mistaken email sent by his own media handler (which was promptly corrected.) The commissioner said he’d “pick and choose” which questions to answer when handling media interviews.
“I’ve been a legal analyst for national news sources for a couple of years now. This happened in my backyard, and who better to speak about it than myself -- but only as someone who’s not directly involved,” Grieco said.