Public Understanding of the Courts in the Age of New Media to air on CSPAN March 23

By _ News Staff

March 21, 2011

The “High Profile Cases in the Digital Age” panel of the “Public Understanding of the Courts in the Age of New Media” meeting, sponsored by the _ Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Improvements, will air on C-SPAN2 this week. Check listings at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/schedule .

Panelists included:  U.S. District Court Judge John Jones; Elizabeth Paret, clerk, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia; Vaughn Walker, district judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California; and Pete Williams, NBC News justice correspondent. Tom Hodson, director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, served as moderator of the program. The symposium was also co-sponsored by the host, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University, and the Rehnquist Center, which is based at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

In February when the meeting took place in Phoenix, AZ, ABA’s media presence, ABA Now, reported these highlights:

Pete Williams, an NBC News justice correspondent, said courts need to be more responsive to the changing demands of both consumers and providers of news. “There are more people wanting to do more in a faster way,” Williams said of today’s media landscape.

U.S. District Court Judge John Jones of the Middle District of Pennsylvania said the challenge for judges and judicial administrators is to look at best practices across the country because there is a “totally new paradigm” emerging, and courts must adapt quickly to generate better public understanding of the institution.

“We need to take judges to school because the old way doesn’t work,” said Jones, who in 2005 barred a Pennsylvania public school district from teaching “intelligent design” in biology class, saying the concept is creationism in disguise. The case was called one of the biggest courtroom clashes between faith and evolution since the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, Tenn.

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