FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2019
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Maryland Judiciary updates, digitizes guide to assist journalists covering
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A newly updated, comprehensive guide aimed at giving members of the media a better understanding of the Maryland court system is now available online.
The Maryland Judiciary released its third edition of the Journalist’s Guide to Maryland’s Legal System today. The release coincides with the American Bar Association’s Law Day, which is held annually on May 1 to celebrate the rule of law in the United States. The 2019 Law Day theme is “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society,” and encourages the understanding and protection of these fundamental rights ensured by the U.S. Constitution.
For the first time, the Journalist’s Guide will be offered exclusively online. The document has been thoroughly updated, rewritten, and reorganized under the direction of the Maryland Judicial Council’s Court Access and Community Relations Committee and its Community Relations Subcommittee, drawing on the help and expertise of many attorneys and journalists in the community.
“It is significant that we are releasing the Journalist’s Guide on Law Day,” said Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera. “The Judiciary strives to improve public awareness and understanding of the Maryland judicial branch, as well as the court system, and its role in resolving conflicts, providing justice, and upholding the rule of law. A free press is vitally important to inform the public about court proceedings and events. This guide gives journalists the tools they need to report about our legal system with the necessary accuracy and thoroughness to inform and educate the people we serve.”
The Journalist’s Guide includes information on obtaining court records through Case Search, at the courthouse, or through the Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) case management system; a review of journalists’ rights; guidelines for coverage to avoid legal problems; an overview of the Maryland Shield Law; a guide to the various components of Maryland’s state judicial system and justice partners; and explanations of the criminal and civil court processes.
Research for the third edition started about three years ago when Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Larnzell Martin, Jr., now retired, was chair of the Court Access and Community Relations Committee and District 10 Administrative Judge Pamila J. Brown (Howard County) was chair of its Community Relations Subcommittee.
“We were fortunate to have the help of several distinguished former journalists and representatives from the Maryland State Bar Association,” said Judge Brown, who still chairs the subcommittee. “This has been an intensive effort by many dedicated committee members and experts, including Robert D. Anbinder, Esq., and Sue Kopen Katcef. Both Anbinder and Katcef made major contributions to the guide by dedicating many hours to research, write, and edit the content you see in this third edition.”
The work has since been completed under the purview of Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Pamela J. White, who became committee chair in 2018.
“This guide is extensive and inclusive,” Judge White said. “We tried to answer every question and identify every resource that reporters might need to know about Maryland courts and how to cover judicial proceedings. The guide includes practical details and is quite ‘user friendly,’ while giving journalists a resource to rely on time and time again. We also believe that the online format will provide easy and instant access.”