Bill Suter and the Court’s press corps
In any courthouse in the nation, a news reporter’s professional success is assured – or frustrated – depending upon the reporter’s dealings with the court’s clerk and the clerk’s staff. The flow of the court’s business is managed well or poorly, depending upon the clerk’s office, and the work of the press corps is as much affected by that as are the efforts of the lawyers and the interests of the public with cases before the court.
Bill Suter’s tenure as the Supreme Court’s Clerk has proved those observations over and over: Bill has understood the needs and the desires of the press corps and has used his considerable energies to help satisfy both, while keeping his primary focus on ensuring that the Court’s judicial business was conducted at a high level of administrative efficiency. The transparency of the Court’s work – something vital to those covering it journalistically – is now at its peak, and a good deal of the credit for that is due to Bill.
Just as importantly, Bill has been as good humored as he has been accessible to the news reporters, and his informal visits to the Court’s press room have helped maintain a superb working relationship, and have made him a personal friend to many. Even the exchanges with him on political and other non-legal issues have been mutually enjoyable, even when it was obvious that we were not convincing each other to embrace our sometimes differing perceptions.
In an institution that often is said to be resistant to doing things in new ways, Bill found ways to modernize the flow of work and bring its operation fully into the digital age. The press, too, was a beneficiary of these efforts: when the Justices agreed upon new working arrangements for the press corps, Bill was a creative ally to the Public Information Office in bringing those about smoothly.
From the press section in the Courtroom, reporters have watched Bill as the cordial greeter to countless attorneys joining the Bar, making them – even though strangers to the Court – feel genuinely that they had become a part of the Court family.
With Bill’s parting, the press corps will look hopefully to the new Clerk, Scott Harris, to keep up the informal visits to the press room. We will, of course, cut Scott some slack, until he has a chance to learn that the press is never satisfied.
Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, Bill Suter and the Court’s press corps, SCOTUSblog (Jul. 12, 2013, 11:53 AM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/07/bill-suter-and-the-courts-press-corps/