On September 22 and 23, Marks Gray’s Ed Birk participated in the Florida Bar Media and Communications Law Committee’s 25th annual Reporters Workshop at the Supreme Court of Florida. As chair of committee, Ed attended the annual media awards ceremony conducted at dinner on Monday night at the top of Capitol. During dinner, he sat with Chief Justice George Labarga and Bar President Gregory Coleman, as well as several recipients of the media awards and Neal Skeine, former editor of Congressional Quarterly and longtime friend.
On Tuesday morning, he moderated a panel with three judges–DCA Judge Simone Marstiller, 2d Circuit Chief Judge Charles Francis, and Leon County Judge Nina Ashenafi-Richardson—regarding news coverage of Florida courts. It was a vigorous discussion with the judges and the 20-plus reporters from news organizations across state. Points of discussion included how to develop sources within the legal profession and judiciary who can help inform or educate reporters on areas of law and legal issues that may not be well known. The discussion also included an examination of the merit retention and appointment versus election process for our judiciary. Of course, judicial independence was a topic as well.
The media committee started the Reporters Workshop in 1989. Since then, the justices of the Supreme Court have adopted the workshop as their own, seeing the benefit of educating news media as to our legal system and using the workshop as opportunity to continue spreading the vital message of an independent judiciary. Accordingly, most of our Supreme Court justices attend the annual media awards dinner and make it a point to participate in the annual Reporters Workshop.