Friday, November 20, 2009

Cameras for the 9/11 Trial

      The idea of allowing TV cameras and radio microphones inside the upcoming federal trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is drawing support from an unusual segment of the political world. Check out the above link from the Huffington Post, where Senator Arlen Specter speaks in favor of electronic coverage of the proceedings.FEDERAL courts are still under a mandate NOT to allow cameras in the vast majority of cases.

     I've covered trials from Rodney King to Robert Blake, and, of course, the OJ case, which resulted in an off-the-record blackout of live coverage for years thereafter. Judges, especially in LA, were afraid of becoming "Ito-Ized", terrified their mistakes would be put on display for the entire world to see. A POST OJ rule also allowed them to deny cameras without giving a reason ,or holding any hearings.As President of the Radio-TV News Association, I spent years working with the courts, judges and lawyers helping the local radio and TV stations get back into the judicial process, but much work still needs to be done.
     It may seem counter-intuitive to even CONSIDER giving a piece of human excrement like KSM an open microphone, but consider this: It's the only way to show both the American people (in real time) how we prosecute terrorists, and the outside world that we (hopefully) have a fair and honest court system.
     Advice to the judge who ends up presiding over the case: Run a no- nonsense courtroom, don't LET your case turn into a circus, and allow the media to show the world (in real time) what's going on. The last thing we need is a star chamber where all the documents are sealed and all of the witnesses sequestered. The many tricks, gimmicks, and sometimes illegal tactics used by BOTH sides in the People Vs. O.J. Simpson generated many reprimands from judge Ito, but at the end of the day, he dismissed ALL of his sanctions, and none of the lawyers paid any fines, nor were any investigated by the state bar. For supporters of the 1st Amendment, some good news: the California Judicial Council is considering an edict ordering judges to allow cameras, unless they can show a compelling reason, in writing, why they shouldn't.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The McCourts aren't ready for their close-up

 Once again, we are seeing The L.A County Superior Court's reactionary nature when it comes to celebrity proceedings SINCE the OJ Simpson case. Here, a judge has decided that the privacy rights of the  owners of the LA Dodgers trump the public's right to see what's going on in a high profile case. The court has a long history of favoring the rights of well-heeled plaintiffs and defendants over the needs of journalists to tell their stories to the public. For years, I've been working with the judges and members of the media to  seek solutions, while avoiding knee-jerk decisions like the one in the document below. We have made great progress since OJ, but obviously, still have a ways to go. Your honor, if you're concerned about  your litigants getting a fair hearing, how about an order telling us where we may or may not  shoot inside the courtroom, which faces may NOT be shown, and taking swift action against any members of the media who violate your rules?. Instead, cameras (as well as recording devices ESSENTIAL to radio reporters) are locked out. BTW, how would YOU like to have to do YOUR job without basic tools?. We need our tape recorders, laptops, cell phones etc. to meet our objective of serving the public interest. If any of us are using these tools in a way that obstructs your proceedings, throw the offender out! Interesting to note that rule changes now now under consideration by the state judicial council would allow cameras in ALL cases automatically unless the trial judge can show, in advance, why they should not be allowed. Here is the order in re: McCourt versus McCourt:

Nov. 4, 2009


(BD 514309)

Media representatives covering Jamie McCourt v. Frank McCourt hearing tomorrow, Nov. 5, 2009, should check in with a PIO staff member outside Dept. 88 on the 8th floor of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse (111 N. Hill St, downtown LA, 90012) by no later than 8 a.m.
Commissioner Scott Gordon denied media requests to film/photograph the hearing. Sketch artists will be in attendance. The use of electronic equipments, such as PDAs, BlackBerrys, laptops, cell phones, etc, will not be allowed. They must be turned off and put away.
Once the hearing begins, reporters will not be permitted to leave the courtroom until proceeding is concluded or there’s a break. If someone needs to leave before the hearing is over, this person will not be allowed to get back in.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Best of LA Radio People

  Thanks to for their mention of me today, as they review some of the best talents in the local radio market. For my fans, good news is coming...stay tuned to _______(Oops! almost spilled the beans!)

Steve Kindred (former KFWB newsman) 
  • “Great off the cuff reporting and a huge improvement on the previous occupant of the PMD chair.”
  • “Steve excelled in every category for 21 years – traffic anchor, editor, field reporter, business anchor, and afternoon drive. He was president of the Radio-TV News Association for five years. He was there for coverage of the LA riots, Northridge earthquake, and trials from Rodney King to Robert Blake.”