Today I was not on general assignment, but I was summoned to the courthouse to cover a hearing of Matthew Akins. I knew absolutely nothing about the case, nor where the courthouse was located… and did I mention that I had ten minutes to get there?
Oh, and I was wearing overalls.
Needless to say, I enjoyed covering the hearing, but here are a few tips about covering court cases:
1) You have to go through security, so make sure that you allow time for that.
2) This one pretty much applies to being in the newsroom in general: ALWAYS wear relatively nice clothes… I got caught on a day where I hadn’t necessarily dressed in business casual (I can’t imagine what everyone thought of me as I sat down in motorcycle boots and a pair of overalls).
3) WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN: even though I didn’t really know about the case other than the name of the defendant and the location, I managed to figure a lot of it out, just by re-reading my notes.
4) Sit up front. The courtroom is really quiet and they don’t use microphones. In my case, the presiding judge for this hearing was a relatively soft-spoken female, and if the lawyers hadn’t had booming voices, I probably wouldn’t have been able to hear a thing.