Christina Gallagher was recognized for her proposal to modernize Pennsylvania’s court system through a program to better acquaint journalists and the judicial system they cover.
Christina Gallagher, a recent graduate of Penn State Law, was honored yesterday by Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts as the winner of the organization’s inaugural writing contest at a reception at the Comcast Center.
The contest challenged law school participants to “examine one aspect of Pennsylvania’s judicial system and propose a novel approach to modernizing and/or reforming it.”
The former Philadelphia journalist approached the challenge by emphasizing her own time as a reporter, which included stints with the Philadelphia Daily News, Allentown Morning Call, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, as well as covering the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case for the Associated Press.
“To inform citizens about the work of Pennsylvania courts, the media and [the] courts need to redefine their relationship,” she wrote. “Specifically, both organizations need to understand how each other operates.”
Gallagher’s recommendations included improving legal journalism by helping those covering courts understand “the basic function and operation of Pennsylvania’s courts,” specifically through courses to give journalists both tangible knowledge of the system and relationships with the legal community. PMC is planning to implement that recommendation through its programming.
In addition, Gallagher suggested a system be developed to disseminate information about cases, similar to one used by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) for Pennsylvania’s courts, as a “tool for the public and journalists to better understand the complexities of a case.”
“As technology continues to advance, there is a greater opportunity for courts and the media to develop a better relationship,” she said. “My hope is that both entities learn to better understand and appreciate one another, as they both play important roles in society.”
“We are delighted to highlight Ms. Gallagher’s uniquely engaging work; her recognition is well-deserved,” added PMC President & CEO Maida R. Milone. “Her recommendations provide a practical path for organizations like PMC, journalists, law schools, and the judiciary to come together and fundamentally redefine how we perceive each other and how the public perceives our interrelated work.”
"We couldn't be prouder of Christina's contribution to making Pennsylvania's courts more accessible to the citizens of the commonwealth," said Penn State Law Interim Dean James W. Houck. "It's great to see that she is finding early success in combining her experience as a journalist with the legal education she received at Penn State Law."
The contest was open to 2, 3, and 4L students in the Greater Philadelphia Area, as well as law schools at Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University.
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Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians can come to our courts with confidence that they will be heard by qualified, fair, and impartial judges