An Open Letter To Ryan Lochte

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While we are serious about our work, we also appreciate a little humor in our lives. Below our Managing Partner Jim shares his “no-nonsense” thoughts about a nonsensical Lotche situation.

An open letter to Ryan Lochte,

Dear Ryan,

As a criminal defense attorney, I just wanted to give you a tip of the hat for some sweet moves amid finding yourself in a sticky situation. May I offer some unsolicited – but, given the way this is playing out for you, important – advice on things you might consider doing differently next time around?

Getting out of Brazil… brilliant move! I mean, who knew that our treaty with Brazil says you can only be extradited for sexual assault or murder. I guess as long as you can get out of the country before they catch you, you can break any laws beyond that. Also, waiting to call your buddies and clue them in until after you were airborne was a stroke of genius. After all, it’s every man for himself among co-defendants.

Lawyering up as soon as you hit U.S. soil is as American as apple pie. We’re no. 1 in the medal count for the Rio games and no. 1 in lawyers per capita.

The spin that you really did tell the truth – it’s just a matter of perspective – and then, later, simply “exaggerated” it, is quite the savvy attempt at crisis management. Surely, there could be no other reason for you guys to sit down on the ground at the gas station after a hard night of drinking and carousing, other than that someone had you at gunpoint.

Some things to consider in the future:

  • White-ish/greenish/blueish hair makes you way too recognizable. Most seasoned criminals understand that you need to keep a low profile to avoid eyewitness identification.
  • Try to stay away from video surveillance. Nothing like a digital recording to ruin a good defense.
  • Talking to anyone, let alone Matt Lauer, about criminal conduct is never a good idea. The tongue tends to be the natural enemy of the neck if you know what I mean. It is going to be hard to reconcile the interview where you described with your hands how the gun was at your temple and what actually appears on video.

All advice aside, I wish you and your legal team the best of luck as you navigate these troubling waters.



James W. Bannister


James W. (Jim) Bannister is an award-winning, fourth generation criminal defense attorney, practicing in Greenville, South Carolina. He serves as a Managing Partner of Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC.

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