Busy week on the news front here in Floyd County.
Stories in The Floyd Press will report on a rare jury trial Monday on an even rarer instance of where the seven person jury spent most of the day deciding the verdict and punishment for a Fishersville man charged with reckless driving from an accident a little more than a year ago that resulted in injuries on Virginia Rte. 8.
What happened? You will need to read Thursday’s Floyd Press to see. They BH Media pays me to cover such news for their papers and that means I don’t scoop myself here on Muse.
Tuesday’s regular set of hearings in Circuit Court included an announcement by the attorney for suspended Floyd County High School physical education instructor and basketball coach Jason Dalton that he will plead on April 10 and not face a trial on two indictments on sexual matters involving young girls.
I wrote a short story on that for the Floyd Press website and more details will reported Thursday in the paper.
Same rules for the public hearing on the meals tax and other matters before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday night. The results and story will be found in Thursday’s paper.
Seems like I spend more and more time in Circuit Court covering an array of cases that one might not expect in a small rural county like Floyd. I also find that covering criminal matters involving county residents being anger and threats.
As a general rule, we cover what happens in court. We don’t use news reports to try the case beforehand. After a reports of a charge, the defendant or a family member may asked “why don’t you interview me and get our side of the story.” We don’t interview any side of a court case. What happens or is presented in the courtroom.
The issues over what should or should not be reported about a criminal charge or trial (or plea) have been debated over the years. Some want the names of those charged withheld until the trial but arrest records and indictments are public record.
The best analysis of the issue, in my opinion, came in a series of limericks that used the famous case of Lizzie Borden as an example.
Consider the original poem:
elizabeth Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks.
and When the job was nicely done,
She gave her father forty-one.
In most cases, a news report of what happened would say:
The Bordens, abby and andy jack,
Were found dead today, slain by axe.
Police say 81 blows were sledged,
The daughter did it, it’s alleged.
However, some in the criminal justice system think that’s too much that for the public. Instead, they want:
A terrible thing has some to pass,
At the Borden home in Fall River, Mass.
Involved are father, mother, child,
For further details, see the trial.
And the debate continues.
(Updated to correct the original poem.)