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Missouri Press-Bar Commission welcomes seven new members

TW_Press-Bar Commission AppointmentsSeven journalists and judges from around the state joined the Missouri Press-Bar Commission in October to help foster better communications between the media, the bench, and the bar.

Formed in 1972, the Missouri Press-Bar Commission is comprised of nearly 30 media professionals, lawyers, and judges who seek to improve interactions and understanding between journalists, judges, and lawyers. The commission creates projects and programs to better educate the public and encourage cooperation between the press and legal professionals to strengthen service to the First and Sixth Amendments.

Hon. Michael Carter serves as municipal judge of Wentzville and is founder and president of Carter Law Offices, LLC in St. Charles and St. Louis, where he focuses on real estate, criminal, and corporate law. Carter was appointed as a representative of the Missouri Municipal Judges Association.

“When I pursued my master’s of journalism along with my law degree at Mizzou, I never envisioned how the two academic lanes could converge quite like this,” Carter said. “Working with skilled journalists and attorneys to increase the public trust of our courts is a high calling to which I will give full measure.”

Sarah Gassen became the business editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in July 2022 – bringing more than 25 years of journalism and teaching experience to the newsroom. Gassen said it’s important for the press, bar, and bench to “vigorously defend” the First and Sixth Amendment rights.

“I firmly believe the best way to protect and promote the essential democratic necessities of a free press and the right to a fair trial is to raise issues and work on solutions in good faith – together,” Gassen said. “I’m encouraged by the dedication, openness, and spirit of shared values I’ve seen on the commission.”

Hon. Chuck Replogle is associate circuit judge for the 30th Judicial Circuit in Webster County and was appointed to represent the Missouri Association of Probate and Associate Circuit Judges. He said he is excited to learn more about the media’s perspective and provide clarification on how the judicial system works.

“This opportunity gives me a greater appreciation of the media's perspective when it comes to accessing court information which, in turn, allows me to impress upon other judges the importance of being mindful of this perspective when it comes to matters of court openness,” Replogle said.

As editor of Leader Publications in Festus, Kim Robertson has more than 23 years of journalism experience. As one of the representatives of the Missouri Press Association, she said she is excited to join the Missouri Press-Bar Commission to help promote better awareness and cooperation among journalists, lawyers, and judges.

“I … know how important it is to inform the public about crimes, lawsuits, and other legal and court-related issues,” Robertson said. “I also know it can be difficult to access and understand the information needed to tell those stories.”

Hon. Brenda Stacey is a circuit judge for the 23rd Judicial Circuit in Hillsboro and was appointed to represent the Judicial Conference of Missouri. She said she is excited to interact with the press to help “facilitate transparency and promote confidence in our system.”

“The balance between judicial ethics in discussing individual cases and accurately providing information as a whole is frequently a difficult balance to strike,” Stacey said. “When courts remain silent, they may seem mysterious and secretive, and this perception can lead to a lack of confidence in the judiciary.”

Hon. W. Douglas Thomson is a judge for the Missouri Court of Appeals-Western District who decided to join the commission to collaborate with both legal and journalism professionals.

"The opportunity to come together to develop an understanding of the concerns both professions have allows for a discourse that is not present anywhere else,” Thomson said.

Debby Woodin is the city hall reporter for The Joplin Globe and a representative of the Missouri Press Association.

“As a veteran courts and government reporter, I am looking forward to working with the commission to continue communication and cooperation between the press, The Missouri Bar, and courts,” she said. “I also am interested in helping to retain access to public records, inform citizens about the state’s judicial system, and to preserve First and Fourth Amendment rights.”

The Missouri Press-Bar Commission still seeks two diversity representatives who reflect diverse media communities in terms of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, geography, audience size, and/or platform. Click here­­­­ to apply for the vacancy and meet the other commissioners.

Members of the press are also encouraged to utilize the free media resources, including a recently revised Media Law Handbooklegal glossary, and News Reporter’s Handbook. These materials are created by the Missouri Press-Bar Commission and are available through The Missouri Bar.