First Judicial District Hosts Bench-Media Brown Bag Lunch in Beatrice

First Judicial District Hosts Bench-Media Brown Bag Lunch in Beatrice

First Judicial District Hosts Bench-Media Brown Bag Lunch in Beatrice

Journalists were welcomed into the Beatrice probation office by Judge Linda Bauer for a ‘getting to know you’ session on August 31, 2017. In her opening remarks, Bauer noted that the purpose of the program was for the courts and reporters to become acquainted.  “As a judiciary, we recognize that the majority of society relies upon the media to provide information that they use to formulate their opinions about the courts and judges,” said Bauer.  She continued, “We depend on you, the media, to portray what we do accurately, because we want the public to respect our work.  That respect ensures the dignity and integrity of our judicial system.”

Chief Probation Officer Jeremy Behrends discussed Nebraska’s expanding probation services noting that he is always available to discuss programs and operations with reporters. Following the probation presentation, Bauer handed out an outline on the criminal process before opening the group to a round-table discussion.

Judges Bauer, Curt Maschman, Steve Timm and Ricky Schreiner engaged the journalists in a conversation of policies, practices, and court rules.  Clerk Magistrates, Clerks of the District Court, and staff joined in asking questions of both judges and journalists.

Journalists with cameras were encouraged to make appointments with Media Coordinators and judges in each court that they intend to cover in order to agree on camera placement and microphone usage.  Maschman noted that all county court proceedings are digitally recorded and many recorders have additional output jacks. Staff suggested that judges remind attorneys to use their mute buttons or make sure that sound-masking devices are working so that confidential conversations are not recorded.

Mike Flood, owner of News Channel Nebraska, told judges and staff not to hesitate to call his media stations with concerns about a reporter’s behavior or reporting.  He asked that courts call right away to report a negative experience so news management can deal with problems in a timely manner.  

Journalists were reminded to read the Bar-Press Guidelines. Clerks were reminded to be helpful when called for information because assisting with the training of a new journalist will help everyone in the long run.  

In addressing news reporters, Bauer emphasized that the courts protect the freedoms of each individual guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution reminding the group that “Courts and judges answer to the Constitution, not popular sentiment.”  When addressing the full group of attendees, Bauer said, “I hope, as we discuss matters today and you have the opportunity to speak informally with me and the other judges, you will have a heightened sense of our responsibilities but also feel more comfortable in future interactions with the judges and our staff.”

All presiding judges were requested to join together with staff and probation in arranging regional meetings with area media to explain court process and get to know each other.  The 1st Judicial District is the first to host a court-media brown bag lunch as requested by the Chief Justice in summer of 2017.