So what is going on with The Hartford Courant? How could it be so wrong in regard to the Connecticut Judicial Branch? Why is it wrong in its assessment of Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, wrong on incompetent and arrogant Family Court judges, and soft on Connecticut Family Court injustice and corruption? How come the media has essentially carried out a news blackout when it comes to the fraud and wrongdoing going on within the legal system in Connecticut. Why has the media simply refused to meet its obligations to the citizens of Connecticut?
There is actually a good answer to those questions.
As I understand it, the media is supposed to be "the fourth estate" which acts as a watchdog to ensure the proper conduct of the government and our judicial system. In the word of one expert, "Access to information from the media is essential to the health of democracy for at least two reasons. First, it ensures that citizens make responsible, informed choices rather than acting out of ignorance or misinformation. Second, information serves a "checking function" by ensuring that elected representatives uphold their oaths of office and carry out the wishes of those who elected them. In the United States, the media is often called the fourth branch of government (or "fourth estate"). That's because it monitors the political process in order to ensure that political players don't abuse the democratic process."
So why isn't The Hartford Courant, let alone other Connecticut media, playing this critical watchdog role in regard to the Connecticut Judicial Branch? Why is our Connecticut media pretty much giving the Judicial Branch a free pass to carry out whatever nonsense it cares to?
The answer is that Judges, Attorneys, and Employees of the Connecticut Judicial Branch have systematically cultivated friendships with highly placed media executives and journalists. These friendships have developed to the point where the media in Connecticut has come to believe that it has a greater obligation to defend the Connecticut Judicial Branch from all potential challengers rather than investigate and critique it on behalf of the citizens of the State of Connecticut which it has a fundamental obligation to serve.
I know that at this point you are probably curious to know how this media shift in perspective from outsider to insider took place.
What happened is that in 2007, Judge Chase T. Rogers established the Judicial-Media Committee to discuss media access to Connecticut Judicial Branch legal proceedings and records. The founding documents for this Committee state the following, "The goals of the Judicial-Media Committee are to foster and improve better understanding and relationships between the Judicial Branch and the media, both print and electronic, and to discuss and recommend resolutions of problems confronted by the media and the public in gaining access to court proceedings and documents."
If you think this sounds like the basis for a judicial branch-media mutual admiration society, I would suspect you are correct.
The bottom line is, if the media has the legal right to access to legal proceedings and documents, that would be something their lawyers would need to attend to. But instead, what actually happened is that the Connecticut Judicial Branch arranged for ongoing friendly meetings over a period of seven years sometimes at the offices of one of the media moguls and sometimes at the Judicial Branch. Clearly, these meetings were fundamentally unnecessary and intended solely for the purpose of skewing the opinions of media leadership in the direction of the Connecticut Judicial Branch.
Some of the big media names involved in this Committee are as follows: G. Claude Albert, Managing Editor, The Hartford Courant (retired); Tom Appleby, General Manager and News Director, News 12 Connecticut; Karen Florin, Staff Writer, The Day of New London; Eric Parker, Morning News Anchor, Reporter, WFSB, Channel 3; Chris Powell, Managing Editor, Journal Inquirer; Thomas Scheffey, Connecticut Law Tribune, editorial board; Nancy Schoeffler, Editor, Metro Desk, The Hartford Courant; Paul Giguere, President & CEO, Connecticut Network; Michael St. Peter, News Director, WVIT-TV Channel 30; Kirk Varner, Vice President & News Director, WTNH-TV Channel 8; Dave Ward, Assignment Editor, WFSB-TV, Channel 3; John Long, Photographer, retired from The Hartford Courant; Ken Margolfo, Assignment Manager, WTIC-TV Fox 61; Melissa Bailey, Managing Editor of the New Haven Independent.
As you can see, this is an extraordinary lineup of media industry leaders and stars many of whom for a period of seven years conducted regular meetings with judges, attorneys, and judicial branch employees and essentially cemented relationships that could not help but be wide ranging and influential.
This represents unprecedented access to opinion makers and information gatekeepers solely gathered for the benefit of the Connecticut Judicial Branch. Those of us who are working for the reform of the Connecticut Judicial Branch had nothing like such access whatsoever and, as a result, have not been able to get the media to cover our stories and work with us for fundamental reforms that the legal system desperately needs.
In essence, what this amounts to is that the Connecticut Judicial Branch used its superior power and influence and its control over information sources that the media desperately wanted access to in order to win over the media and shut down any criticism the media might raise of its fraudulent and criminal activities.
It is a strategy that is both brilliant and, at the same time, fundamentally in opposition to our nation's democratic principles.
The result is that The Hartford Courant as well as other media outlets in the State of Connecticut have reneged on their professional responsibility to speak up about the many abuses of Connecticut Family Court. Even worse, the media in Connecticut has colluded in a conspiracy to deny the wrongdoing and act as apologists for the criminal actions of Family Court judges, attorneys, and mental health professionals.