Loyola Law School’s Public Service Institute Hosts Symposium On Free Press And Judiciary

Jessica Levinson Introduces Panel
Professor Jessica Levinson ’05, LMU Loyola Law School Professor and Director, Loyola Public Service Institute introduces the night's panelists.

The Loyola Public Service Institute (LPSI) at LMU Loyola Las School hosted “Preserving Free Courts and a Free Press” on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 on the law school’s downtown Los Angeles campus. Panels covered the path to becoming a judge, threats to the media, and the assault on the judiciary. Panelists included distinguished jurists and seasoned journalists.

"The press is attacked just like the judiciary," said Judge Paul Bacigalupo, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge and president of the California Judges Association, which partnered with LLS on the event.

A series of judges and journalists provided examples of his point. Journalists on the "Threats to the Media and an Independent Press" noted haranguing they'd experienced in the field. Panelists set their sites on the so-called "democratization of the media."

"They don't need us to tell their story anymore," said KNBC-TV's Conan Nolan of politicians' ability to tell their stories through other channels such as social media outlets.

Panelists pointed to an expansion of social media and other avenues for news consumption as blurring the lines between journalism and gossip. "Mistrust in media has been brewing for years," Nolan said. 

"Anybody can be a citizen journalist, and that's where some of the mistrust comes in," said Carla Marinucci, reporter for Politico's California Playbook.

But what lies ahead remained an open question. 

"There are outlets that will do anything" in terms of standards for accuracy, said Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times. "We're playing by different rules."

However, the panelists did not see an easy fix -- and were wary of government involvement in one.

"The government should not be deciding who is the press," said Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times.

The day's agenda included:

5-5:45 p.m.: The Path to Become a Judge and a Career in Public Service

  • Justice Martin Jenkins, Judicial Appointments Secretary, Office of Governor Newsom
  • Judge Serena Murillo ’96, Los Angeles Superior Court
  • Judge Michelle Williams Court ’93, Los Angeles Superior Court
  • Moderator: Judge Nicole C. Bershon, Los Angeles Superior Court

6-7:15 p.m.: Threats to the Media and an Independent Press

Threats to the Media and an Independent Press

Panelists include Carla Marinucci, Melanie Mason,Jennifer Medina, Seema Mehta, Conan Nolan and moderator Professor Jessica Levinson.

7:15-7:45 p.m.: Hosted Reception

7:45-8:45 p.m.: The Importance of an Independent Judiciary

  • Keynote Speaker: Judge James Robart, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
  • Moderator: Judge Paul Bacigalupo, Los Angeles Superior Court; President, California Judges Association

The event was co-sponsored by the California Judges Association and its Judicial Fairness Coalition. The LPSI is made possible through the support of Hon. Patty Schnegg ’77 and William Oppenheim.