Bench Trial: Judges Anchor Panels During Loyola Summer Fellowship

JLS-2016
An array of judges from a range of courts

An array of judges from a range of courts -- including federal district and state supreme courts -- provided their insights into legal issues taken directly from the headlines during the 11th-annual Journalist Law School hosted by the Civil Justice Program at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

Addressing such topics as racial bias in the courtroom, distinguished members of the bench led a variety of discussions with the 38 competitively selected fellows at Loyola’s four-day bootcamp for journalists who report on the law. Journalist fellows represented such outlets as ABC News, Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. The fellowship ran from June 8-11, 2016 on Loyola’s campus. 

Fellowship panels offered journalists the rare chance to probe judges on a range of important topics. During the “Race & the Courts” panel, Loyola Professor Priscilla Ocen moderated a discussion with Hon. Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, chief justice of the California Supreme Court; Hon. Eric T. Washington, chief judge, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia; and Loyola Professor Eric Miller. The judges, who appeared as part of a Loyola partnership with the National Center for State Courts, answered tough questions about racial bias in the judicial system.

“We are trying to become much more transparent in how we do things,” said Chief Judge  Washington. “We are trying to become much more aggressive in how we train and with what we train.”

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye elaborated on the need for growth and introspection. "I believe courts are an opportunity for justice," she said. "In California, we enforce continued education. We do ethics training, explicit bias training and more. It's important to scrutinize our own behavior and self-assess"

The panel “The Courts’ Perspective: A Panel Discussion with the California State-Federal Judicial Council” provided journalists with insider advice for cultivating relationships with judges as sources. Moderator Hon. Sheri Bluebond, chief judge, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California, led an open discussion with panelists Judge Edward J. Davila, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, and Judge Brian C. Walsh, Superior Court of California, Santa Clara County, California.

Elsewhere, Judge Rupa Goswami, Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, California, participated on a panel about rape in India along with Dr. Paromita Chattoraj, assistant professor, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, India. They provided commentary on the documentary film, “India’s Daughter,” which covered reaction to the gang rape and murder of an Indian woman on a Delhi bus.

In its 11 year history, Loyola’s Journalist Law School fellowship has featured dozens of panels led by or including judges – and with good reason. “The credibility of the legal system hinges on judicial independence,” said Professor John Nockleby, director, Civil Justice Program.

Next year’s fellowship is tentatively scheduled for June 7-10, 2016. Updates will be available on the Journalist Law School website