Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Law Courts

Yesterday our journalism class went to the law courts. We met up with CreComm grad, Mike McIntyre, who is also the crime and justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press. He gave us some leads on stories from the names in the hearings. All of the cases are posted up on a board when one walks in. Some are the Crown vs. a person, or people v.s people, or people vs. an entity like a life insurance company. I saw quite a few cases that involved CIBC and RBC life insurance.

I chose to go to a hearing where allegedly a young gang member shot at another rival drug dealer's vehicle. The case was actually pretty interesting. The two hours I spent in the courtroom flew by. Another interesting thing was that the accused was actually in the room, along with his girlfriend watching with myself and my fellow classmates. From what I've heard, usually those looking to get out on bail appear on a t.v. monitor in the room. I guess this was different because the accused was actually appealing his bail sentencing from before. Although this was an alleged gang member I almost felt bad sitting in on his hearing. I thought it was a weird juxtaposition where we were both in the same room, but he was facing time and I was writing an assignment.

Another thing that I didn't expect was for a witness to be called. The witness had to leave after she gave her testimony because she might be called at a later date to give testimony again. It almost made me anxious, even though I didn't do anything, to watch the witness be questioned. The Crown went through her entire criminal history and then asked her many, many detailed questions. I could see the witness struggling, and could tell that it would be very hard to tell a lie and keep it straight on the stand.

Overall, I liked that I got to write about something interesting. However, I'm not so sure if I'm cut out for crime reporting. I had a hard time getting past that the fact that everyone in these courtrooms were people with families, despite their criminal behaviour.

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