Even the best journalist can easily become lost in the thicket
of unfamiliar terms, strangely named offices, and complicated
procedures that is a court system. Easily lost, that is, unless
he or she has a good guidebook.
With the publication of this Handbook, the Council for Court
Excellence has tried to provide just such a guide to reporters
following stories into the District’s complex court
system. The Council is to be applauded for producing a guide
which is clear, concise and remarkably free of jargon. It
is complete and authoritative, a very useful tool for the
reporter striving to produce accurate, balanced and fair journalism.
Understanding the court system is essential if a reporter
expects to produce accurate articles, and accuracy has never
been more important. Explaining and reporting on the legal
system is a vital part of fulfilling the news media’s
role of explaining democracy to citizens. Confusion and errors
undermine the role.
The Council has done a great service to the news media –
and to society – in producing this important document.