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Media and the courts

Between July 2010 and December 2012, CCE held eight discussions among the bench, bar and media in DC about cross-cutting and topical issues to promote a better understanding between those sectors.

Courts are experiencing pressure to adapt to new methods of courtroom coverage in the face of a public that is increasingly adopting visual and social network media as its primary sources of information. The rapidly changing business of journalism – reduced numbers of reporters, increasingly opinion-driven journalism – can result in more frequent tensions between the press and courts. 



CCE’s series of eight programs aimed to enhance community awareness and understanding of the courts and their role in our democratic system of government. The programs were:


  • Sharing Perspectives, a session designed to let judges, attorneys and journalists candidly discuss issues of common complaint. July 29, 2010 and June 13, 2012.
  • Press on Trial: the Libby Case, a public panel discussion with participants in the Scooter Libby trial in the US District Court for DC, emphasizing how trial courts can address and manage media attention in high-profile trials. December 9, 2010.
  • Confidentiality vs. Open Access in DC Juvenile Cases, a public panel discussion about the effects of recent DC legislation to open certain juvenile records, where juvenile records and proceedings are presumptively confidential and closed to the media. May 23, 2011.
  • Social Networks, Computer Technology and the Courts, a video-recorded public panel discussion conducted in a hypothetical format discussing how DC courts, journalists and attorneys are reacting to and addressing social network and computer technology issues. June 15, 2011. You can see a trailer for this program on YouTube.
  • The Technology and Law of Cameras in the Courtroom, a public panel discussion about publicly broadcasting certain trials in local and federal courts nationwide, as well as the benefits and concerns of doing so. March 27, 2012.
  • Police, Protests and Press Coverage, a public panel program conducted in the “Fred Friendly” hypothetical format discussing issues about law enforcement and courts’ response to protest activity on courthouse grounds, the limits of press coverage of such events, and responses to increasing numbers of “citizen journalists.” October 2, 2012.
  • Leaks and the Law, a public panel program discussing issues related to the handling and reporting of classified information, the peril of disclosure to leakers and reporters, and reporters’ privilege when subpoenaed. December 6, 2012.

CCE published a plain-English guide to the DC area courts, entitled Journalists' Handbook to the Courts in the District of Columbia.


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