Monday, January 27, 2003
Journalists’ Society Names California Chief Justice George As Career Achievement Award Recipient
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has named Chief Justice Ronald M. George to receive its Norwin S. Yoffie Career Achievement Award.
The chapter said in a release it was honoring the state’s top judicial officer “for his long-standing efforts to make the California court system, court records, and the Judicial Council more accessible to the public.”
George will be honored at the chapter’s annual James Madison Freedom of Information Awards dinner March 18 in San Francisco. Information about the dinner may be obtained by calling (510) 434-1307, the society said.
In choosing George for the award, the society hailed his decision to break with tradition and allow the media to interview Supreme Court staff attorneys, his personal visits to courthouses in all 58 counties, and his availability to the media and as a public speaker.
“Most significantly,” the group said, “George has pushed to make court information available on the Internet through creation of an extensive court system website; electronic records, docketing, and self-help systems; and an array of new California Rules of Court that create public access to Judicial Council meetings and to court budgetary records under the same principles as the California Public Records Act.” Also noted was the chief justice’s backing for rules that permit electronic filing and restrict the ability to file court records under seal.
The society will also present its Advocacy Award to the California First Amendment Coalition for its activities in support of the free press, including the legal defense of embattled journalists and lobbying activities on behalf of the proposed state constitutional amendment on public access.
A Legal Counsel Award will be given to Tom Newton of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, and several journalists will be honored, including Misha Osinovskiy, a photographer for the student newspaper at Chico State University arrested on Labor Day weekend for photographing an undercover officer of the State Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control who was making an arrest on a public street.
No charges were filed, after Osinovskiy, with backing from CFAC, insisted that the place was not a crime scene and that he had a legal right to shoot there, the SPJ said.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company