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We are very pleased to see an idea become a project and now a reality with the publication of the Journalists’ Handbook to the Courts in the District of Columbia. As judges and now chief judges, we have read, listened to and watched news stories that are accurate and serve to inform and educate the public about the judicial branch of government. This coverage is ultimately good for the courts and good for our country as we work towards our shared goal of a judicial branch that provides equal justice under the law and a government that lives up to our constitutional mandates.

This Handbook is designed to help you report on the courts in an accurate and informative fashion. We realize that not all articles will be positive; bad things do happen. But we are committed to working with media to see that news reports on court cases, court programs and services, and the judges themselves, are as informed and accurate as possible. We hope that this guide will help you to understand how courts function, what constraints judges operate under, and what the applicable laws are.

We want to express our appreciation to the Council for Court Excellence, for providing the initiative (both intellectual and financial) to move this project forward, and to the Committee members, who demonstrated a commitment to public service and a profound understanding of the courts that is a credit to them and their agencies and law firms.

And lastly, we want to thank you for taking the time to read through this Handbook and improve your understanding of courts. We pledge in return to take the time to talk with you when you have questions that need answering or issues that need clarifying.

Royce C. Lamberth
Chief Judge
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Lee F. Satterfield
Chief Judge
Superior Court of the District of Columbia

 

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