CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION - Table of Contents

The purpose of the manual is to provide useful and helpful information about the American justice system, and particularly about the operation of the justice system here in Boulder County. It is our hope we will not only provide helpful "how-to" information but that we will foster a better understanding of both the strengths and the weaknesses of the system and a greater appreciation of the importance of the justice system to our system of government.

The idea for the manual arose during a series of meetings among members of the Boulder County Bar Association and members of the local media, particularly reporters and editors of the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call. The meetings were aimed at improving communication and understanding between the two groups. As the members of the two groups shared thoughts and ideas, it was decided that a symposium should be held to provide information about the justice system and about the press coverage of that system. As the discussion of the symposium continued, it became clear that written materials would be of great help in facilitating discussion and understanding at that symposium. Thus, this manual was born.

While the manual was conceived as an aid to the press in understanding the justice system, and an aid to lawyers in understanding press issues, the manual should be of help to anyone interested in learning more about the justice system. We have attempted to use plain English, rather than "legalese," and to address issues that may be of importance to non-lawyers. This is not a textbook for lawyers.

This Manual is not a substitute for getting legal or other professional advice. It is intended merely to educate, not to advise. People with legal problems should consult a lawyer.

A number of people volunteered their time in the preparation of this manual. We would like to acknowledge the work of authors Virginia Chavez, Rachael Doan, Jim England, Pat Furman, Alex Garlin, the Honorable Daniel Hale, Bruce Langer, Kim Lord, Laura Mitchell, Bill Nagel, Georgiana Scott and Michael Setter. Many others helped these authors. A subcommittee of the Bar-Press Committee of the Boulder County Bar Association oversaw the writing and production of this manual and their efforts were critical to refining and improving this work. Thanks to Pat Furman, the Honorable Daniel Hale, Travis Henry, Mark Langston, Bill Nagel and Pam Regensberg. The first editions of the manual were produced through the generosity of Dean Lehman of the Longmont Times-Call. Keeping a watchful eye on all of us were Christine Hylbert and Heather Holbrooks-Kuratek of the Boulder County Bar Association.

We hope that anyone who finds errors or omissions, or who wants to make any comment, will do so by contacting the Boulder County Bar Association (BCBA) at 303-440-4758. The e-mail address is and the street address is 1942 Broadway, Suite 205 Boulder, Colorado 80302.

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