Media Relations

Resource Guide

Due to advancements in technology and media presence in the courtroom, Courts now have the additional burden of promoting an effective relationship between the courts and the media to ensure that cases are handled in a fair and professional manner. Especially in notorious cases with heightened public attention and media coverage, PIOs have the responsibility serving as liaisons between the judges and the media, ensuring fair and accurate reporting while preventing any impairment to the dignity of court proceedings.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.

Featured Links

Greg Hurley Managing High-Profile Cases. (2017).

A high-profile case can push a court’s staff and resources to their limits and beyond. The Managing High-Profile Cases in the 21st Century website provides the resources a court needs to meet this challenge.

Delivering Our Message.

Court Communication Plan for the Judicial Branch of Florida: Year One Implementation Report (May 2017). Prepared by the Florida Supreme Court Public Information Office, this report details the first year's work in a state court communication plan adopted by the Florida Supreme Court in December 2015.

NCSC Brown Bag Presentation: May 2, 2013.

As part of its Brown Bag Series, NCSC's Research Division hosted a live streaming video webcast featuring a lecture by Dr. Pamela Schulz­ called "Courts, Public Confidence and Infotainment: Looking through a Media and Language Lens."

Sommermeyer, Michael S. All-a-Twitter: Harnessing New Media for Judicial Outreach and Communication. (2011). Future Trends in State Courts.

New-media tools need not be a threat to the integrity of the judiciary if they are employed with a clear set of objections and an understanding of potential misuse. Social media allow courts to directly reach out to communities, share success stories, and respond to constituent needs.

Click, Laura. From Sketch Pads to Smart Phones: How Social Media Has Changed Coverage of the Judiciary. (2011). Future Trends in State Courts. The advent of social media has transformed the way journalists report the news. Courts must educate themselves about the seismic shift in the media landscape to have a better understanding of how these changes will impact the courts.
Bladow, Katherine and Joyce Raby. Using Social Media to Support Self-Represented Litigants and Increase Access to Justice. (2011). Future Trends in State Courts. In their 2010 report “New Media and the Courts,” the Conference of the Court Public Information Officers documented social media’s impact on the public’s trust and confidence in courts. In this article, we expand on their work, looking at how courts are using social media to increase access to justice and listing steps courts can follow to implement a social-media initiative.
Kostouros, John. Who Are Those Guys? Courts Face a Rapidly Changing News Industry. (2011). Future Trends in State Courts. Traditional news organizations have been slashing news staffs, and many veteran court reporters have left the profession. New models of news coverage are emerging, bringing new challenges and new opportunities for courts wishing to communicate with the public.
Hodson (Ret.), Hon. Tom. The Changing Media and Its Impact on the Courts. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts. Improved communications technology and social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, are changing the face of journalism. Courts must rise to the challenges presented by these changes and the new breed of “citizen journalists.”
Davey, Chris. The New Media Project of the Conference of Court Public Information Officers. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts. New Media such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are transforming the way people get information and understand the world. The Conference of Court Public Information Officers is studying this phenomenon as to its impact on court proceedings, judicial and employee ethics, and our obligation to advance public understanding of the judicial system.
Shelton, Hon. Donald E. Technology, Popular Culture, and the Court System - Strange Bedfellows?. (2006). Future Trends in State Courts. The technological revolution is now part of our popular culture and that popular culture is directly reflected in our juries, as it should be in a system that puts its faith in the people. The court system needs to find ways to keep pace.

Court Media Relations

Council for Court Excellence. The D.C. Bench Bar Media Dialogue Project. (2011). Final Report to the State Justice Institute.

This final report summarizes the DC Bench-Bar-Media Dialogue Project, an educational program series designed to foster discussion on issues of current interest to the bench, bar and media and, by so doing, promoting a better understanding between them.

Bybee, Keith L. Bench Press: The Collision of Courts, Politics, and the Media . (2007). Stanford University Press

This book includes essays that contemplate the intersection between the judiciary and the media, pondering subjects such as judicial power, preserving public confidence, judicial elections, judicial selection, judicial independence, judicial confirmation, the internet and the distance between judges and journalists.  (KF5130 .B39 2007)

Conference of Court Public Information Officers.  The Conference provides a focal point to improve the skill and knowledge required of court public information officers through conferences, seminars, professional development and educational programs.
Hayslett, Jerrianne. Confidentiality in the Courts and Media: The Gathering Storm. (December 2005). National Conference on Courts and Media, Washington, D.C.

This report focuses on confidentiality and media access to the courts, including materials on the reporter's privilege, reporters as witnesses, restrictions on juror information, access to court information, gag orders, and access to terrorism proceedings.  A DVD accompanying the report includes clips from the conference.  (KF9223.5 A17 N38 2005)

Lovko, Rae Court-Community Relations Survey. (April 1994). Information Services. Survey done of all fifty states in final report form done on community relations and projects. The purpose of these projects, such as "Meet Your Judges" forums, is to educate and ferment public trust in the court system.
Developing Comprehensive Public Information Programs for Courts. (1996). Williamsburg, VA: National Association for Court Management The purpose of this guide is to provide an overview of public information programs that educate, inform and improve the public’s understanding of the judiciary.  This guide also reviews elements of successful public information programs and provides examples of successful outreach programs.
Hayslett, Jerrianne. From O.J. to Martha to Michael: What Have We Learned About the Conduct and Coverage of Trials?. (October 2005). National Conference on Courts and Media, Reno, Nevada

This report includes materials from the conference on topics such as the top ten significant issues for judges, journalists and lawyers, high profile cases, pretrial publicity, communication with the media, security issues, and the role and impact of media coverage.  Video clips from the conference are included on a DVD.  (KF9223.5 A17 N381 2005)


Professional Issues Committee. Guide to Translation of Legal Materials.. (April 2011). Consortium for Language Access in the Courts.

This translation guide was compiled and edited by the Consortium for Language Access in the Courts’ Professional Issues Committee. It is meant to compile some lessons learned by program managers over the years and serve as a guide to help other program managers move forward with translation projects within their own court system.

Initiating and Maintaining a Constructive Dialogue: A Workbook for Judges and Journalists. (2009). The National Judicial College, Reynolds National Center for Courts and Media This workbook includes resources designed to improve relations between the court the media, including checklists, sample forms, and examples of outreach programs around the country.
Yanus, Alixandra B. Full Court Press: An Examination of Media Coverage of State Supreme Court.

Justice System Journal. The author focuses on whether or not a case will receive media attention. She determines that there are three characteristics that are positively tied with the chance a case will receive news coverage: case facts (whether the case affects policy), media characteristics (more reporters/space means more availability for judicial coverage), and judicial characteristics (if there is a judicial election that year). (Vol. 30, No. 2)

Parachini, Allan. Managing the Media. (Summer 2006). California Courts Review: 18 The author, public information officer for the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, provides tips for dealing with the media in high-profile cases.
Media Day at the Sacramento Superior Court. (2010). Judicial Branch of California This brief video details how Judges and staff of the Superior Court of Sacramento County hosted local media representatives for a court orientation session.
Media Guide Project. (1994). National Association for Court Management A quick media reference guide for court managers and other court personnel. The publication explains how the media does itscjob and how to develop successful media relationships.
Carter, Charlotte. Media in the Courts. (1981).

Conflict centers around the equitable observance of both the media's first amendment right to gather and publish news relating to the judicial process  and the accused sixth amendment right to a fair trial by an impartial jury.

National Center for Courts and the Media. The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for the Courts and Media was formed to foster discussion about the inherent tensions between the right to a fair trial, as guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the First Amendment right of the free press to conduct its work largely unfettered by governmental restrictions. The center is a program of the National Judicial College.
Waters, Craig Technological Transparency: Appellate Court and Media Relations After Bush v. Gore. (Fall 2007). The Journal of Appellate Practice and Procedure, Vol. 9, No. 2 This article discusses the techniques that Florida PIO Craig Waters used in coordinating media relations during the historic 2000 Bush v. Gore case.
Ivy, Carol. When a Reporter Calls, Don`t Hang Up. (Summer 2006). California Courts Review: 23 Discusses the importance of communicating with the media, and highlights meetings with local media representatives hosted by the Superior Court of Monterey County.
Gray, Cynthia. When Judges Speak Up: Ethics, the Public, and the Media. (1998). Chicago: American Judicature Society (KF8779 Z9 G736)

High-Profile Cases

Hannaford, Paula. Making the Case for Juror Privacy: A New Framework for Court Policies and Procedures. (2001). Although actual cases of retaliation against jurors are extremely rare, they do occur occasionally and so concerns about that possibility by citizens are very real. Some of these concerns may be the result of excessive publicity about the lives of jurors that have served in high profile trials in recent years.
Parachini, Allan. Managing the Media. (Summer 2006). California Courts Review: 18 The author, public information officer for the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, provides tips for dealing with the media in high-profile cases.
Report on Fair Trial of High Profile Cases. (1998). American College of Trial Lawyers Seventeen-page pamphlet that gives twelve recommendations to judges of notorious trials and comments on judicial ethics and responsibility that accompany a notorious trial subject to media scrutiny.
Secret Justice: Anonymous Juries. (Fall 2000). The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: 1 Article on the use of anonymous juries in high-profile cases.
Casey, Pamela et al. Through the Eyes of the Juror: A Manual for Addressing Juror Stress. (September 1998). Notorious trials often involve many sources of stress, including severe disruptions of daily routine due to lengthier trials and jury sequestration, significant media publicity, and more troubling evidence and testimony introduced at trial.