Videos -- A Journalist's Guide to Civil Procedure Narrated by Rita Braver

Article excerpt

American Bar Association (1993). A Journalist's Guide to Civil Procedure. Chicago: American Bar Association, 40 minutes. Videotape (1/2" VHS) with a companion pocket-size primer. $69 plus $5.95 handling fee.

In 1989, the American Bar Association's Commission on Public Understanding About the Law began producing a series of videotapes with an accompanying pocket-sized printed primer aimed at practicing journalists. This tape is the fourth in the series, which includes A Journalist's Guide to Federal Criminal Procedure, Following the Paper -ail; A Journalist's Guide to Locating Legal Documents and The First Amendment; and A Journalist's Guide to Freedom of Speech. Presumably, others are in the pipeline.

A Journalist's Guide to Civil Procedure has most of the same strengths and minor weaknesses as its predecessors. Much of the content consists of "talking heads" with no sophisticated graphics of other visual devices. The interviews are occasionally a bit protracted, although they are more fast-paced in this tape.

CBS-TV legal affairs correspondent Rita Braver narrates this video, which uses a civil rights case--Ray v. School District of DeSoto County--and a cigarette product liability case--Cipollone v. Liggett Group--to explain civil procedures. All of the major steps in the judicial process are clearly explained and illustrated with examples from the filing of the complaint to appeals. There are also some valuable tips from two veteran journalists, a federal judge, and several attorneys.

This tape, like the other three, is a great resource for a variety of journalism classes such as public affairs reporting and, especially, media law. It is probably not appropriate for classes such as "Introduction to Mass Communication" or even the beginning newswriting course because it is fairly sophisticated in its treatment and conveys more knowledge than a beginning student needs. However, instructors in these lower-level courses may wish to place the video on reserve for the more dedicated students.

A Journalist's Guide to Civil Procedures is certainly the best of the four tapes completed so far. …

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