Journalism and the Law

For the last two Mondays, I have visited the law courts.

Despite having been there before, I still really do not know what is happening. To write my stories, I feel I have to clarify everything with the attorneys and ask a bunch of questions.

The first time we went, I lucked out with a quick case. A young drug courier pleaded guilty to trafficking in order to strike a deal. Because we were there and a bunch of high school students, they took the time to explain all the aspects of the case. We were out by 11 and I wrote my story by 3.

Today I was not so lucky. I originally wanted to go to a trial against police officers but I couldn’t find the court room. So, I went to a sexual abuse case. However, that wasn’t exactly something I really wanted to hear so when someone suggest we go next door to a dangerous offender application.

The dangerous offender case was still in preliminary stages so there wasn’t a lot of info being said. The judge did list the priors and my mouth kept on dropping, stopping at conspiracy to break out of prison.

From there, we checked back at the sexual assault case but there were too many students. After checking out two more trials, we were at the last one on our list.

I walked in there completely clueless and an hour late for the trial. They kept saying stuff that didn’t line up. Finally, I asked Crystal, I don’t get how any of this relates to him. Isn’t he the president of the Manitoba Health something.

Then Crystal looked at me, and said “no, he’s the Manitoba president of the Hells Angels”. Then things started to make more sense.

After my two days at the law courts, I have concluded that there are many rules for journalists and well, attorneys don’t really want to help you out so much. Everyone was super nice to us because we told them we were students on an assignment. As for the rules, it’s all for protection of the victim.

We were asking on Crown attorney questions and she flatly told us she doesn’t like talking to reporters. After we told her we were just journalism STUDENTS, she was so helpful in our understanding of the case.

Mike McIntyre, the crime reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, spends all of his time at the law courts. I don’t think I could do it. The vibe just isn’t right. But one thing I do agree on, is that reporting the stuff going on in courts is important. People have the right to know what is happening with the law in their city and courts are open to the public. They really don’t get too many visitors beside family members and students on assignment, but hey, at least we are trying to learn.

Room where both the trials I attended was at.

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