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Justice in Plain Sight: A Small Town Newspaper and Its Unlikely Lawyer Opened America’s Courtroom by Dan Bernstein | New Release



Justice in Plain Sight: A Small Town Newspaper and Its Unlikely Lawyer Opened America’s Courtroom by Dan Bernstein

Published: January 1, 2019

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press

Pages: 280

Genres: non fiction, history, politics

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: the First Amendment, equality and justice for all, unknown parts of history, politics 

Foodie Vibes: black coffee and donuts 



Justice in Plain Sight is the story of a hometown newspaper in Riverside, California, that set out to do its job: tell readers about shocking crimes in their own backyard. But when judges slammed the courtroom door on the public, including the press, it became impossible to tell the whole story. Pinning its hopes on business lawyer Jim Ward, whom Press-Enterprise editor Tim Hays had come to know and trust, the newspaper took two cases to the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1980s. Hays was convinced that the public—including the press—needed to have these rights and needed to bear witness to justice because healing in the aftermath of a horrible crime could not occur without community catharsis. The newspaper won both cases and established First Amendment rights that significantly broadened public access to the judicial system, including the right for the public to witness jury selection and preliminary hearings.

Justice in Plain Sight is a unique story that, for the first time, details two improbable journeys to the Supreme Court in which the stakes were as high as they could possibly be (and still are): the public’s trust in its own government.



Thank you to NetGalley, University of Nebraska Press and Dan Bernstein for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

So many great aspects to this book. It definitely makes me want to stand up and do what’s right for all people. I really liked the concepts.

A small town newspaper demanding an open court system and winning. #LoveIt

Journalism making a positive impact on their community. #AnotherWin

Learning about the inner workings of journalism, the court system and Supreme Court case processes. #Fascinating 

You will learn so much about all of this and more, by reading Justice in Plain Sight. I think it’s a great book for people, especially students, who want to learn more about these concepts in a more example driven manner. I also liked that the transcripts from portions of the Supreme Court cases were provided. It really helped me to understand. It also gave the true feel of the atmosphere, during that era. The process may not have been flashy, but it was necessary and impactful for years to come. 

However, the material is fairly dense so reading requires good concentration. It’s not a book to read when you’re tired or distracted. Also a few times I got a little lost, but ended up figuring it out. 

Overall, I learned a lot about a concept in history that I previously knew nothing about. An informative, strong book that made me more appreciative of all the journalists in the current political climate.


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