May It Please The Court

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May It Please The Court
by Leonard Rivkin
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Quote of the Day - The image of the reporter as a nicotine-stained Quixote, slugging back Scotch while skewering city hall with an expose ripped out of a typewriter on the crack of deadline, persists despite munificent evidence to the contrary. - Paul Gray
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Legal News, Radio and TV Reporters Get It Wrong 50% Of The Time, According To Judges

Legal news, radio and TV reporters get it wrong at least 50% of the time, according to an article written today by West Virginia reporter Juliet A. Terry, who recently attended a workshop in that state for judges and journalists and wrote about the cathartic experience.  That startling figure represents West Virginia judges' opinions.  Perhaps even more surprising, the judges who see reporter's errors rarely, if ever, call to correct them.  Although I haven't polled California judges, I suspect most would agree with their counterparts in West Virginia.

Where does that leave you, dear reader?  Probably more in the dark than you realize, if you're reading mainstream news reports of legal events.  What can you do about it?

Keep doing what you're doing right now.  Read legal blogs. 

Reporter Terry admits that most reporters don't have law degrees, they don't have the opportunity to talk with the judges, who are not permitted to comment on pending cases, and they're spread too thin between assignments. 

Where does that leave legal reporters?  Probably more in the dark than they realize, since they're not trained and can't rely on the judges.  What can a reporter do about it?

Call or email legal bloggers.  There are an entire cadre of us covering cases and legal events in just about every area of the law imaginable across the 50 states and across the world.  Most, if not all of us are pleased to talk with reporters.  In fact, I just got off the phone with CNN Boston, who needed some background information.  Happy to provide it.

I'd rather have legal new as close to 100% accurate as possible.  I disagree with Reporter Terry's conclusion in her article that the chasm between journalists and judges should remain in place, with just an occasional footbridge across the gap.  The problem with the current 50% accuracy rate is that you can't tell which 50% is right. 

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, October 26, 2006 at 15:00 Comments (1)


Comments by TAD from 0 on Saturday, November 04, 2006 at 09:49 - IP Logged
And here's what judges think of themselves, and what people think of them.....
A national survey of 1000 registered voters and 2428 state judges found that Americans have deep concern about what is happening in our courts.
47% of voters rated the job being done by state courts and judges in their state as poor.
94% of judges believe that state courts and judges in their state do a good job.
76% of voters believe that contributions made to judge’s influence judicial decisions.
56% of judges believe contributions made to judges have little to no influence on judicial decisions.
28% of voters believe judges are not honest and trustworthy.
31% of voters believe judges are not fair and impartial.
35% of voters believe judges are not independent.
36% of voters believe judges make decisions based on politics and pressure from special interests.
62% of voters believe there are two systems of justice in the U.S. – one for the rich and powerful and one for everyone else.
67% of voters believe individuals or groups who give money to judges get favorable treatment.
72% of voters believe judges have a great deal of power over our daily lives and that we have the right to criticize them and hold judges accountable.
87% of voters believe we should reform how we select and treat judges to ensure that justice is the same for all citizens regardless of who they are, what they believe, or how much money they have.
90% of voters are concerned about judges being selected for reasons other than their qualifications.
86% of voters and 70% of judges support establishing independent citizens boards to inform the public about judicial functions.
Public Trust and Confidence in the Courts: What Public Opinion Surveys Mean to Judges - Court Review, Volume 36, Issue 3 - Fall 1999 • David Rottman, Alan J. Tomkins - Available on-line

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