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Join CCE at our Fall 2020 Virtual Bench-Bar-Media Dialogue Program!

Shut Out or Shut Down?: Challenges in Ensuring Public Access to Courts and Government During COVID-19

Join CCE on Tuesday, September 1 at 5 pm for a virtual Bench-Bar-Media Dialogue discussion. The COVID-19 crisis has presented significant challenges for every institution and organization in our nation, requiring major operational changes for the foreseeable future. D.C.'s courts and government agencies are no exceptions. Closures, staffing capacity, and other challenges have raised questions about how these institutions can maintain reasonable public access and transparency during this difficult time.

Our upcoming panel will bring together a public official, judge, lawyer, and journalist for a discourse on how local and federal institutions have reacted in the face of COVID-19, specifically in regards to public access. Panelists will also address questions like: 

  • How well are government agencies keeping the public informed of their activities during the pandemic?
  • What impact has the crisis had on state or federal Freedom of Information Act compliance?
  • How are courts, both D.C. and federal, handling the requirement of public access to proceedings when there is no physical courtroom that the public and press can enter? 
  • What practical obstacles are reporters who cover the government facing?  What could the news media be doing differently, or better?

Each of the speakers will detail the challenges that COVID-19 has posed to their respective institutions in ensuring public access, as well as the strategies that they have implemented in response to the crisis. We look forward to a dynamic and informative discussion; we hope you will be able to join us!  

Our distinguished panelists include: 

  • Jason Leopold, Senior Investigative Reporter, Buzzfeed News
  • Hon. Trevor McFadden, District Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • Hon. Karl RacineAttorney General for the District of Columbia 
  • Katie Townsend, Legal Director, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press 
  • Moderator: Jim McLaughlin, Deputy General Counsel, Washington Post

Panel to start promptly at 5 pm. The event is free but please RSVP via Eventbrite to receive the Zoom link.


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About CCE's Bench-Bar-Media Dialogue Series: Since 2010, CCE has presented this dynamic event series that brings together judges, lawyers, and members of the press to discuss timely and engaging First Amendment and justice-related topics. Past Bench-Bar-Media topics include Justice on the Big Screen, Leaks and the Law, Juvenile Confidentiality, Cameras in the Courtroom, The Libby Trial, among others.

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