From O.J. Simpson, to Trayvon Martin and Casey Anthony, we have become used to the media targeting trials and turning them into spectacles. Many in the public see them as entertainment; often they become a lightning rod for political controversy. All the while jurors must be protected and citizens must be able to conduct their regular business with the court. These challenges can prove an enormous test for a typical trial court. When do you know a trial will turn into a media event? What can your court do to prepare? Michelle Kennedy and Karen Levey share their experiences dealing with high profile trials in their courts.
This is an intriguing episode for listeners interested in high profile trials, media relations, jury security, and court administration.
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About the Guest Speakers
Karen Connolly Levey Chief Deputy Court Administrator has been with the Ninth Judicial Circuit for 28 years. Ms. Levey is responsible for all Due Process Services, including Jury Services, Court Reporting, Court Interpreting, and Problem Solving Courts. Ms. Levey also serves as the Circuit-wide representative for Security issues.
She is responsible for the Circuit’s comprehensive public information, media relations and civic outreach efforts. She serves as official court spokesperson. Ms. Levey is responsible for managing the Court’s social media sites, providing professional support for legislative issues, handling public record requests and handling the Court’s strategic planning efforts.
She has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a Master of Arts in Political Science both from the University of Florida. Prior to coming to work for the Circuit, she worked for a Federal Congressman, worked as a Regional Planner and as an Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
As public information officer for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, Michelle Kennedy is responsible for handling the logistics and administrative issues related to high profile trials. In preparation for State vs. Zimmerman, she met with media representatives and law enforcement officials for months prior to the trial to develop strategies to accommodate the needs of an international press corps and ensure a safe and efficient process for all involved.
Michelle’s duties also include supervising the probate and guardianship division and managing many of the due process services provided by the courts. She has been with the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit since June of 2000. Prior to that, she served in community relations positions at the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and various non-profit agencies.
Michelle currently serves as President of the Florida Court Public Information Officers Association. She is a graduate of Florida State University where she majored in Communications and Political Science.
Would You Like to Learn More?
National Center for State Courts - Managing High Profile Cases for the 21st Century
Conference of Court Public Information Officers - Association for Court Communicators
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