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N.C. judges, journalists form news media-courts forum

The Associated Press

02.25.00

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North Carolina ...
North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Henry Frye

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — State Supreme Court Chief Justice Henry Frye announced yesterday the establishment of a 40-member news media and courts forum that will explore the sometimes conflicting needs of reporters and the courts.

Composed of newspaper and broadcast reporters, editors and managers, court officials, lawyers and law enforcement, the forum will be similar to one in the early 1980s that led to cameras being allowed in courtrooms, Frye said.

"The courts and the press have their fair share of public criticism, and, perhaps, we can both learn from each other how to address these concerns," he said at a North Carolina Associated Press luncheon.

He said the news media and courts shared a reverence for the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the goal of keeping the public better-informed, but have divergent needs, too.

"This forum will open discussions to help the courts understand the needs of reporters and for reporters to understand the restraints of the court system," Frye said.

Technology has helped the media make huge strides, but the court system has fallen behind, Frye said.

He said he hoped state legislators would take to heart the findings from a recent study by the Gartner Group, the world's leading authority on information technology, and provide the necessary funding for a more user-friendly court system.

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