Tag Archives: courts

Linda Deutsch: Retires from The AP to Write Memoir

Passing the torch.

Changing of the guard.

End of an era.

All of those cliches could be said about the news that Linda Deutsch is hanging it up after a 48-year career with The Associated Press. But none them fit. One reason is because no phrase, label or accolade has been created that could come close to Linda and the stupendous body of work she amassed in her nearly give decades as a court beat/legal affairs reporter at the AP. Another is that cliches are trite and Linda isn’t.

Linda’s prowess as the doyenne of celebrity and notorious trials was well established — starting with the 1970 Charles Manson murder trial — when she became known to me. She was one of the media minions covering the 1992 Rodney King-beating trial, which was my baptism by fire as the greener than green new Los Angeles county courts public information officer.

 One of three photographs of Linda that grace my office — right beside one of me with Jay Leno when I gave him a copy of my book, Anatomy of a Trial. This is an 8-1/2 x 11-inch  collage of some of the more notorious trials she covered, which she sent to me with the inscription, “To Jerrianne–who made it all easier. You’re a great pal. Linda Deutsch.” Another photo is of Linda and me with our friend, famed author, movie producer and TV host Dominick Dunne, who has since passed, at a Las Vegas restaurant following a court proceeding in the Simpson robbery trial, which resulted in a sentence of up to 33 years.

I quickly came to know and respect her professionalism, just-the-facts reportage, and accuracy through that and a host of other cases that paraded through the L.A. courts, not the least of which was the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial.

She not only was a straight-shooter with me and her readers, she worked to keep judges honest, particularly when they closed proceedings to the public.  Her tenacity and passion for freedom of the press and the people’s right to know is reflected in the many mentions of her in Anatomy, such as this one: “She was also frequently the first, and often the only one, to leap to her feet in a courtroom to object when she believed a judge was about to wrongfully close proceedings to the public.”

The few stories I could tell about Linda would barely fill a thimble of her lifetime of experiences in the court/judicial/legal world. I, along with her legions of friends and colleagues, have been urging her for years to write a book.

It looks like she’s about to do that. “I consider it less a retirement than a transition to a new phase of my career — writing a memoir of my life and trials. And who knows what else will follow? In one way or another, I will continue to pursue my twin passions: journalism and justice,” she posted on Facebook.

‘Yay, Linda! I can’t wait to read it. But why couldn’t you wait just two more years and make it an even 50?

Bottom line, though, Linda is irreplaceable. She is among the last of the, not just truly great, but true journalists. Please, won’t someone rise up and again make journalism the watchdog and be the objective eyes and ears the public so desperately needs!


Sketches Don’t Give the Whole Picture

I loved the sketch artists who worked on trials in Los Angeles courtrooms during the decade-plus I served there as Public Information Officer. Most of them were excellent. But nothing says “you are there” like a photo or video.

To me, if ever cameras should have been permitted in a courtroom, The People of Massachusetts vs. James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger, Jr. trial was it. But since the Commonweath of Massachusetts doesn’t allow courtroom camera access for its trials …

Bulger trial puts sketch artists in their element

From what I’ve read and seen in broadcast reports, this trial didn’t seem to have any “good guys.” And one of them, the defendant Bulger, acted out pretty badly.

Too bad The People, who are one side in that case, couldn’t witness it.

2-1/2 Branches of Government

I’ve come to realize that the Founders of this country were just kidding.

The joke is in the provision for three equal branches of government.

The light began to dawn several years ago when I worked for the Los Angeles court system and the state legislature determined the court’s budget and level of funding. And he who controls the purse strings is in control.

Conclusive proof is in a bill being floated around the Wisconsin Legislature  that would  neuter the courts as reported by the Milwaukee newspaper http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/miffed-by-court-decisions-against-them-gop-lawmakers-want-to-limit-impact-of-rulings-439ghsq-202338051.html and The Associated Press http://wislawjournal.com/2013/04/10/gop-bill-would-nullify-judges-injunctions/ and posted on the Huffington Post.

Wisconsin Republicans Seek To Cripple Courts That Have Blocked Their Controversial Laws


The Republican-controlled Wisconsin government passed a number of laws, including one that defanged, with potential of killing off, public employee unions and another that made significant changes in the state’s voting requirements. The courts said not so fast on both laws.

So we’ll see if (1) the bill passes, which it no doubt will, (2) if the governor signs it, which he no doubt will and (3) if the courts try to strike it down, which it might no longer have the power to do with any bill the legislature and governor pass into law.


FCC Should Be Fair to Public, Not Murdoch

So Rupert Murdoch wants a “fair hearing” for his application to be allowed to buy the Los Angeles Times, even though doing so would violate FCC rules barring corporations/individuals from owning more than a certain number of news outlets in any given area.

Jon Stewart Rips Rupert Murdoch For Interest In LA Times http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/29/jon-stewart-rupert-murdoch-la-times_n_2980849.html?utm_hp_ref=media

My question is, why? What’s so special about Rupert Murdoch that he should be allowed to violate the law? Or be above it? Or not have to comply with it? Or be given a path around it?

The Daily Show‘s  Jon Stewart pretty much nailed it when he pointed out that Murdoch is, “petitioning the government to circumvent the media consolidation laws that ‘were created with him in mind.’”

Stewart Torches Rupert Murdoch For Trying To Get Around Media Monopoly Laws ‘Created With Him In Mind’ http://www.mediaite.com/tv/stewart-torches-rupert-murdoch-for-trying-to-get-around-media-monopoly-laws-created-with-him-in-mind/

Murdoch’s News Corp. already owns two Los Angeles TV stations. He might argue that because L.A. has at least three other major commercial English language TV stations, owning the Los Angeles Times wouldn’t create a monopoly. And he might even hold up New York City as an example.

Murdoch owns two New York-area  TV stations and a newspaper, the New York Post. Even though the FCC granted his petition for a waiver so he could own those three news companies, one huge difference between Los Angeles and New York is that Los Angeles, for all intents and purposes, has only one major daily newspaper and that is the Times. The New York Post isn’t that city’s major daily newspaper–far from it. The New York Times is. And even though the Post, which is a shiny-object, hyped-headline tabloid, isn’t the largest daily in New York, that city has other daily newspapers — the New York Daily News and Newsday are two besides the Post and the Times.

It’s bad enough for a large metropolitan area to be served by only one daily — or any publishing frequency — newspaper, but to further shrink residents’ and workers’ options with a single company or individual owning not only that paper, but two or more other news outlets does not benefit anyone except the owner and results in a less informed populace. I know. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I live, has only one daily newspaper which is owned by the same corporation that owns one of the four major TV stations and perhaps the most popular radio station. That corporation has a decided editorial point of view and it shows.

Another factor that should be paramount to the FCC as a government agency is that the government needs the news media as much, maybe even more, than the media need the government. That is because commercial news outlets are the primary means available to the government to get important information to the public.

During my years with the Los Angeles courts, an ongoing challenge was to get information to people. The information more often than not concerned programs that benefited court users — or would if they knew about them, hours of operation, jury service, and so much more. At the time, a number of news organizations were available.

Add to Murdoch’s request for a “fair hearing”, is the odorous trail he has strewn across the landscape, particularly in the UK where one of the newspapers he owned there shut down with the editor under suspicion of the unethical, if not illegal — that’s yet to be determined — hacking of private citizens’ and public figures’ email and telephones.

Why in the world would the FCC give special preference to someone with that kind of track record? That agency should to what it was created to do, serve the people. Not clear the way for an already megla-billionaire to further enrich himself at the expense of Southern Californian’s access to a variety and diversity of news sources–unless the commissioners’ have bought into that SCOTUS distortion that in this country money is speech. If so, that money/speech is becoming decidedly obscene. 


The Justice System Strikes Out

The man in this story, “Cruel and Unusual Punishment” at http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/304-justice/16673-focus-cruel-and-unusual-punishment, reminds me of a defendant in Los Angeles when I worked for the courts there.

He stood trial and was convicted for the crime of stealing a couple slices of pizza, and, like Curtis Wilkerson, fell victim to California’s 3-Strikes law that sent him to prison for 25 years to life.

For stealing some pizza.

And we wonder why this country’s prisons are busting at the seams, how the private-prison system has become so obscenely profitable and why states are going broke as they lay out $20,000-$30,000 a year to house and another $12,000 a year to provide healthcare for each and every one of the thousands of miscreants like Curtis Wilkerson and L.A.’s pizza pie thief.

Reno, Here I Come!

It’s still at the invitation stage, but come early March and I might be in Reno. Not for the gambling, though. The Reynolds School of Journalism is holding Journalism Week with special lectures and discussions by professionals in various areas of the media and communications. The program I’ve been invited to participate in with Las Vegas Court Information Officer Michael Sommermeyer is “OJ — then and now”. The idea is for the two court information officers for courts where O. J. Simpson trials were held, separated by 13 years and a host of changes in the media and technology advancements to share our observations about the media, what worked with our respective trials, what didn’t work and, in general, to talk about what made both trials special in their own ways.
I’m jazzed. It should be an interesting time!