Tavis Smiley Puts Power in the People’s Hands with New PBS Show ‘Courting Justice’ —  ‘This Frank Discussion Is Unprecedented’

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Late night talk-show host Tavis Smiley is taking an unprecedented step in changing the way courts and citizens interact with one another on his new show airing on PBS. “Courting Justice” focuses on town hall meetings around the country where local judges hold discussions with their communities, who can then express their perceptions about the justice system and create solutions.

Shadow and Act reports the series will air beginning June 22 with showtimes varying by location.

“This is essentially a listening tour – something we expect from political candidates but not from judges who preside over the highest courts in our land,” Smiley told the website. “I am gratified that many of the most influential judges in the country are eager to step down from the bench and engage in a free and open exchange with the people most affected by their decisions. This frank discussion is unprecedented. Securing the public’s trust in our judicial system is fundamental to our democracy.”

The first town hall airing next Wednesday was held at Loyola School of Law in Los Angeles and taped June 10. Little Rock, Arkansas will host the next town hall in September and Cleveland, Ohio will follow. The L.A. meeting will be broadcast on The Tavis Smiley Show, Smiley’s weekend public radio show on Public Radio International.

Town hall participants include Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye of California; Associate Justice Maria P. Rivera of California’s First District Court of Appeals; Judge Jimmie Edwards of St. Louis; Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Buckley; and Chief Judge Eric T. Washington of D.C.

Washington told the website that “Courting Justice” – which is a collaboration with the National Center for State Courts – is an opportunity to “allow us to hear from, and listen to, new perspectives on how courts can better deliver justice for all.”

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