21 May, 2014

West Virginia's Judicial Opacity Is The Gazette's Paper-Selling Opportunity

I'm hoping Charleston Gazette Executive Editor, Rob Byers, will use the departure of @TravisCrime as an opportunity to redefine "crime reporter" so I'm, once again, offering Mr. Byers some unsolicited reader feedback.

Mr. Byers, West Virginia's judicial opacity provides the Charleston Gazette an opportunity to add value to a Gazette subscription by reporting what TV won't (unless there's surveillance video of an exploding South Hills mailbox involved.) In states with more judicial transparency citizens can follow up on the neighborhood drug felon whose arraignment they just saw on the evening news and they can find out if the felon made bail, which prosecutor and which judge caught the case and when the felon has to appear in court. In West Virginia, by contrast, citizens who wish to make sure their local prosecutors and judges are doing their jobs have to go to the courthouse and use their computer to get that information. 

And I wonder if the Gazette knows that when a prosecutor's case against a drug felon is dismissed because he failed to provide necessary discovery, neither the judge nor the prosecutor notify the police that the case they worked so hard to build has been tossed. My own St. Albans Police Department found out that a felony drug case against Timothy Basham had been dismissed after I made a phone call to the 13th circuit court administrator, learned of the dismissal and then informed Chief Mike Matthews. 

West Virginia's judicial opacity is the Gazette's opportunity to provide readers with information they won't get from TV news. Put your next crime reporter on the prosecutorial and judicial watch beat. That information alone will be worth the price of a Gazette subscription.

If you live in the city limits of St. Albans and you support the goals and methods of neighborhood watch as a means of improving the city of St Albans, join "Public Group For St. Albans Neighborhood Watch" on Facebook at ::https://www.facebook.com/groups/PublicGroupForSt.AlbansNeighborhoodWatch/.

Higginbotham At Large only publishes the comments of clearly identified submitters. No pseudonymous or anonymous comments will be published. By "clearly identified" I mean something like this: JosephHigginbotham@gmail.com. No Ring of Gyges for you.

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