Public access committee calls for meetings with media

March 19, 2002

Administrative Office of Courts

A judicial committee studying public access to the courts and the relationship between the media and the courts plans to hold a series of meetings with representatives of news media.

Supreme Court Justice James E. Graves Jr., chairman of the Supreme Court's Media and the Courts Committee, announced Tuesday that the first meeting will be held on April 8 at 10 a.m. in Jackson. The meeting will be held at The Clarion-Ledger Community Room at 201 South Congress Street.

Graves said other regional meetings are planned for media markets including Greenville, Meridian, Tupelo, Biloxi/Gulfport and Hattiesburg/ Laurel. Dates, times and locations have yet to be set.

The public access study grew out of Chief Justice Edwin L. Pittman's appointment of Graves as head of a committee to study the feasibility of allowing cameras in the trial courts. Graves said the committee will also discuss broader issues of public access.

Graves said Tuesday, "I want to be abundantly clear that the focus of the committee is not just cameras in the courtroom. I want to improve the relationship between the courts and the media."

Graves said, "We want to educate the public more about what we do. We would like to educate the media more about the court system. It's also important that members of the judiciary learn more about the workings of the media."

Graves met Monday with a majority of the members of the study committee.

Members include Circuit Judges Tomie T. Green of Jackson and Billy Joe Landrum of Laurel, Chancery Judges Margaret Alfonso of Gulfport and Norman L. Gillespie of Oxford, Madison County Judge William Agin, Jackson Municipal Judge Lee Agnew Jr. and Bolivar County Judge James Strait.

Graves said, "We determined that we want to have a series of fact-finding meetings at major media markets throughout Mississippi."

Media will be notified in advance of the scheduling of other regional meetings.

For more information, contact Beverly Pettigrew Kraft, court public information officer, at 601-354-7452.