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When "No Comment" Won't Do: Courts Communicating Through the Media

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 92 minutes
Recorded Date: November 12, 2019
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  • Best Practices for Proactive Planning to Improve Court-Media Relations
  • Ethical issues
  • Preparing Judges and Court Administration Personnel for Media Attention and Request for Information and access
  • Response Strategies
Runtime: 1 hour 32 minutes
Recorded: November 12, 2019


The court system can seem confusing or complicated even to the most sophisticated audience. Journalists and commentators try to explain court proceedings but these are usually in the context of a particular case and cannot give the full picture of what occurs at the local courthouse.

In this program, panelists will explore the relationship and tensions between courts, journalists, and social media in conveying the purpose and role of the courts and specifics of trial information to the public.

Moderated by Andre Davis, City Solicitor for the City of Baltimore, this panel will help judges, lawyers, and court personnel strategize on responses to criticism from public officials. Ben Holden, Teaching Associate Professor, University of Illinois College of Media, and Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor, Slate Magazine, will provide viewpoints from the journalist side. They will offer suggestions for being more proactive in your interactions with the media and in providing information about day-to-day court operations and specific trials in an efficient, ethical manner--while still giving the media a story that is attention-grabbing and accurate.

This program was recorded on November 12th, 2019.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Andre M. Davis

City Solicitor
City of Baltimore, MD

Andre M. Davis served for thirty years as a judge on four courts: the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, from 2009 through 2017; the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, from 1995 through 2009; the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, from 1990 through 1995; and the state District Court from 1987 through 1990. Upon graduating from law school, Davis served as law clerk to Judge Frank A. Kaufman of the federal district court and then to Judge Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr., of the Fourth Circuit. Before his appointment as a judge, he served as an appellate attorney for the Civil Rights Division for the U.S. Department of Justice, as an Assistant United States Attorney in Baltimore, and as an Assistant Law Professor.

Davis received a BA in American history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971, and graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1978. He has received numerous commendations and awards for his leadership of community-based non-profits and attorney organizations. In September 2017, Davis retired from the bench and was appointed by the Mayor Pugh as Baltimore City Solicitor. In that role, he heads the City Law Department, comprised of more than one hundred lawyers and support personnel, and serves as one of five members of the City’s Board of Estimates, the municipal spending authority.

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Hon. W. Terry Ruckriegle (ret.)

Mediator and Arbitrator

Hon. W. Terry Ruckriegle (ret.) was a judge for ten years, and then chief judge for six years in the Colorado District Court. He is past president of the Colorado Bar Association, 2013-14, and served several terms on the Board of Governors. In 2010 he received the Colorado Judicial Institute Judicial Excellence Award and was recognized as Distinguished Jurist by the Colorado chapter of the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers. He was presented the Distinguished Service Award by the National Center for State Courts in 2013. He served in the American Bar Association House of Delegates from 2002-2011 and chaired the National Conference of State Trial Judges of the Judicial Division. He sat on the Board of Directors of the National Judicial College, attended 16 programs, and taught six different courses. He presided over numerous high-profile media cases, including People v. Kobe Bryant and presents on media and the law. He currently serves as senior judge, special master, mediator and arbitrator. He manages every type of civil, domestic and probate mediation, arbitration and court case.

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Ben Holden

Teaching Associate Professor
University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign College of Media

Ben Holden teaches media law and news reporting at the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign College of Media and is a visiting faculty member at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. He was formerly an associate professor and director of the Reynolds National Center for Courts & Media at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). His media consulting work includes assignments in the former Yugoslavia (Kosovo) on behalf of the OSCE and the U.S. State Department to aid judges, journalists, and public information officers in developing professional press coverage of the courts.

Previously, he practiced law at the Bay Area media law firm Cooper, White & Cooper. He spent his daily news reporting career at The Wall Street Journal, where he was eventually the Journal's national utilities correspondent.

He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri and Masters and J.D. degrees at U.C. Berkeley.

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Dahlia Lithwick

Senior Editor
Slate Magazine

Dahlia Lithwick is a contributing editor at Newsweek and senior editor at Slate. She primarily writes about law and politics. She writes “Supreme Court Dispatches” and “Jurisprudence” and covered myriad legal issues for Slate.

In 2018, the Sidney Hillman Foundation awarded Lithwick with the Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism noting that she "has been the nation's best legal commentator for two decades". Before joining Slate as a freelancer practiced in Reno, Nevada. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, The American Prospect, ELLE, The Ottawa Citizen, and The Washington Post.

Dahlia earned her undergraduate degree at Yale and her J.D. at Stanford.

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