Justice in Plain Sight

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Victor Miceli Law Library

3989 Lemon Street

Riverside, CA 92501

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A panel discussion of Justice in Plain Sight: How a Small-Town Newspaper and Its Unlikely Lawyer Opened America's Courtrooms.

In honor of National Law Day, join Riverside author and retired Press-Enterprise journalist Dan Bernstein as he talks about his compelling book on how the Press-Enterprise fought to open closed-door court proceedings to the press and public, winning two U.S. Supreme Court cases in the 1980s.

With key players retired Justice James D. Ward and retired Press-Enterprise editor Mel Opotowsky, the panel will be a timely examination of the First Amendment and the public's trust in its judicial system, moderated by retired Judge Michele Levine.

Speakers:

Dan Bernstein joined the Press-Enterprise in 1976 and began writing a local column in 1982. He retired in 2014. Bernstein plays trombone, whistles, herds sheep and has been repeatedly fired fired from home improvement projects. He and his wife, Candia, were married in 1972.

Justice James D Ward retired from the bench in 2005 after a twelve-year judicial career including ten years on the Court of Appeal. He was named California Jurist of the Year by the Judicial Council in 2003. For ten years he led the effort to create California’s new civil jury instructions. Previously, his thirty-three years of practicing law was highlighted by winning two cases before the United States Supreme Court. He served on the Board of Governors of the State Bar, chaired the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission and chaired a commission that rewrote California’s Civil Discovery laws. He has been active in community affairs including Citizens University Committee, the Mission Inn and the Riverside County Bar – he received that organization’s Distinguished Service Award. He has authored over 100 publications on a variety of subjects – including poetry.

Mel Opotowsky was a lecturer in journalism at Cal Sate University, Fullerton for 15 years and in the Osher program at the University of California, Riverside extension program. He has been a journalist for more than 60 years. In 1999, he retired as managing editor at The Press-Enterprise. He also served as the paper’s ombudsman. A native of New Orleans, he attended Tulane University and graduated from Williams College. He lives in Riverside with his wife, Bonnie, also a native of New Orleans. Altogether, they have four children, 11 grandchildren and nine or ten great grandchildren.

Judge Michele D. Levine received her B.A. from UCLA in 1980 and her J.D. from Loyola Law School in 1983. She began her legal career in the Inland Empire as a research attorney for the late Justice Marcus Kaufman when he served on the Court of Appeal. Thereafter, she served as a Deputy County Counsel in Riverside from 1985-1988. In 1988, she was hired by District Attorney Grover Trask and served in various units as a Riverside County Deputy District Attorney over the next fifteen years including prosecuting homicide and Death Penalty cases and Supervising the Training and Appellate Division. In 2003, she was appointed to the Riverside County Superior Court where for the next fourteen years she presided over numerous cases including Death Penalty cases and served as the first Countywide Supervising Criminal Law Judge, ultimately retiring in 2017. She has served as a Board Member of the Riverside County Law Library Board since 2006, and currently sits as its President.

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Victor Miceli Law Library

3989 Lemon Street

Riverside, CA 92501

View Map

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