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February 16, 2006

Federal Courts Committee Hosts "High Profile, High Publicity Trials: Observations from the Bench and the Press"

PHILADELPHIA—Judge Michael M. Baylson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania will join Judge John E. Jones III of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and George Anastasia, veteran crime reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, when the Federal Courts Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association presents "High Profile, High Publicity Trials: Observations from the Bench and the Press" on Wednesday, March 22. The luncheon event will be held at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, located on the 10th floor of the Wannamaker Building, at noon.

Both Judge Jones and Judge Baylson have recently presided over controversial trials. Judge Baylson presided over the much publicized Philadelphia corruption and bribery trial that involved Philadelphia city officials and the “pay-to-play” attitude prevalent in the city. The controversy surrounding that much publicized trial included the death of one of the defendants just prior to the start of the trial and jury problems. In 2003 Baylson issued a decision that ordered election officials to begin printing all election materials in both English and Spanish for any precinct where registered Hispanic voters constitute more than 5 percent of those on the rolls.

Judge Jones issued his decision in the landmark case of Kitzmiller v. Dover School District in December 2005, holding that it was unconstitutional to teach intelligent design within a public school science curriculum. Another of his notable cases came in 2003 when he struck down portions of Shippensburg University’s speech code on the basis that they violated First Amendment free speech guarantees. He also issued a decision affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Milk Mustache/got milk® campaign did not infringe the free speech rights of the producers.

Anastasia has been covering organized crime and various criminal prosecutions throughout the country for 35 years. His work has also appeared in Penthouse, Playboy and The Village Voice, and he has served as a consultant for ABC’s "Primetime," the Discovery Channel and the History Channel. Anastasia is the author of several books, including The Last Gangster, which is the story of Ron Previte, "Skinny” Joey Merlino and the Philadelphia mob.

Steven E. Bizar of Buchanan Ingersoll, chair of the Federal Courts Committee, will serve as moderator for the discussion.

Registration for the event is available at or by calling (215) 238-6300.

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