The principal event for non-members of the Law and the Media Committee this year was a highly successful "Dealing with the Media" seminar held on April 15, 2003, at the Oakland County Bar Center in Bloomfield Hills. The seminar attracted more than 30 attorneys, who participated in an interactive discussion with a distinguished panel on the practical and ethical issues raised when the media call seeking information on legal matters in which attorneys are involved. The panel was comprised of the Honorable Gene Schnelz of the Oakland County Circuit Court bench; Thomas Byerley, the director of the Professional Standards Division of the State Bar; and three superb journalists: Brian Dickerson of the Detroit Free Press; Paul Egan of The Detroit News; and Stephen Huber of The Oakland Press. The discussion was moderated by Tom Howlett and Jim Mitzelfeld, who both are members of the Law and Media Committee. A number of Committee members also attended and participated in the discussion, including Judge Cooper, Andy Doctoroff and Jesse Green. The seminar was a lively two-hour exploration through a hypothetical fact patter of some of the practical and ethical "dos and don'ts" in the complex and important relationship between the journalism and legal professions. The format is likely to be repeated in other locales in the coming months.
The Committee also made plans for additional "newsroom seminars," continuing the popular panel discussion program that has been offered by the Committee to news organizations around the State in recent years. In each newsroom seminar, the Committee arranges for a panel discussion comprised of lawyers and jurists on issues relating to how best to access information about events in our civil and criminal justice systems. The programs have proved to be particularly beneficial to less experienced journalists in understanding how to access information on legal proceedings.
The Committee also once again organized and directed the annual journalism contest for the State Bar: the Wade McCree Advancement of Justice Awards.