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Court TV Covers State Trials, Gavel-to-Verdict

STEVEN BRILL has become a media mogul.

Besides The American Lawyer, his flagship monthly magazine, Mr. Brill - in partnership with Time-Warner Inc. - owns eight regional legal newspapers around the United States. This spring, the partnership, American Lawyer Media, of which Brill is chairman, also launched CCM (Corporate Counsel Magazine) to cover in-house legal departments of major corporations.

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In 1991, Brill expanded into television. Together with NBC and two other investors, American Lawyer Media created Court TV, a cable channel that broadcasts trials and legal-education programming. While some programming is taped, the channel's centerpiece offering is six to eight hours of live trial coverage each weekday.

Court TV has provided gavel-to-verdict coverage of some 300 state-court trials (most federal courts still bar cameras). Recent broadcasts include the first trial of the Los Angeles police officers who beat Rodney King, the trial of an anti-abortion protester convicted of murdering a doctor outside a Florida clinic, the trials in L.A. of the Menendez brothers for allegedly killing their parents, as well as commercial and other civil trials.

Court TV officials emphasize the public-information aspect of the channel. ``It's very educational, but not in a preachy way,'' says former CBS Supreme Court reporter Fred Graham, one of Court TV's anchors. And channel officials proudly point to a Times Mirror survey in February that found that ``Court TV viewers had a more favorable view of the judicial system generally than those who do not watch the channel.''

Last year, Brill's partnership also started Counsel Connect, an on-line database and electronic-mail network for lawyers.

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