This month Justice in Plain Sight: How a Small-Town Newspaper and Its Unlikely Lawyer Opened America’s Courtrooms (Nebraska, 2019) is available as a paperback edition for the first time.
Justice in Plain Sight is the story of a hometown newspaper in Riverside, California, that set out to do its job: tell readers about shocking crimes in their own backyard. But when judges slammed the courtroom door on the public, including the press, it became impossible to tell the whole story. Pinning its hopes on business lawyer Jim Ward, whom Press-Enterprise editor Tim Hays had come to know and trust, the newspaper took two cases to the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1980s. Hays was convinced that the public—including the press—needed to have these rights and needed to bear witness to justice because healing in the aftermath of a horrible crime could not occur without community catharsis. The newspaper won both cases and established First Amendment rights that significantly broadened public access to the judicial system, including the right for the public to witness jury selection and preliminary hearings.
Justice in Plain Sight is a unique story that, for the first time, details two improbable journeys to the Supreme Court in which the stakes were as high as they could possibly be (and still are): the public’s trust in its own government.
Author Dan Bernstein is a retired reporter, editorial writer, and general interest columnist for the Press-Enterprise newspaper in Riverside, California. He has won various state and national awards for column writing and is the author of two children’s books.
“The considerable research, numerous interviews, and primary documentation combine to make Justice in Plain Sight a comprehensive look at two landmark cases and the underdog newspaper that ensured that the justice process can’t operate in secret.”—Jeff Fleischer, Foreword Reviews
“Whether you’re a lawyer or a history buff, you will enjoy reading about how an unlikely small-town Riverside newspaper and lawyers successfully fought to open public access to criminal proceedings in the United States.”—Theresa Han Savage, Riverside Lawyer
“Justice in Plain Sight provides a timely and intriguing glimpse at the operation of an earlier Supreme Court, which was functioning in the aftermath of the political and social upheaval of the 1970s.”—Kim Himstreet, Bend Bulletin