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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