My time matters too

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The judicial process deserves respect, but so do those that come to monitor cases of interest, especially when those cases are high profile and of great interest to the public.

In this particular case, I am referring to the Rebecca O’Donnell case, one seemingly surrounded in what appears to be some semblance of secrecy under the guise of privacy or preservation of evidence.

Evidence and documents have been sealed and an order issued, preventing law enforcement and others associated from speaking about the case.

In September of this year, Judge David Goodson, a special judge ordered to oversee this case, made a statement to the media during the initial hearing for O’Donnell.

“...For the benefit of the media and public going forward, contact Randolph County Circuit Clerk’s Office regarding any future questions of the scheduling of this case. Do not contact the attorneys. The information will be provided by the Randolph County Clerk’s Office,” Goodson said prior to adjourning for the day.

So, from that point forward, media and the public were directed to contact the Randolph County Clerk’s Office, which is exactly what I did.

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, I contacted the Randolph County Circuit Court’s Office to find out what time court would take place for O’Donnell.

I was told, “Court begins at 9.” Not wanting to be late or an inconvenience and also wanting to ensure I could be close enough to hear clearly when the proceedings began, I arrived early.

Imagine my surprise when at 8:57, there was still no security to check me in and ensure I was good to enter the courtroom.

About 10 minutes until 9 a.m., I thought it odd no one else was here. No one standing in line for court. No one checking people in. I sat near the entrance on the second story for several more minutes before realizing I’d been sitting in the dark. It wasn’t until they flipped the lights on I realized.

I will admit, I believe I was misled. This isn’t the first time I have felt this way regarding this case. On Sept. 19, it wasn’t until the morning of court I was able to receive confirmation court was to be held. Today, on a day when I’m aware there is an early deadline, I now will sit and wait. This isn’t just a mild inconvenience. This puts a strain on my team as it takes us all to pull off our products each week. This is drive time, my time, a waste of my company’s money, resources and in my opinion, the community’s as well.

What if this were not my job and I were a friend who took off work only to realize there was no one here? What if I were a distant family relative who drove a long distance and arrived to find no one here? If I were, would I assume I had the wrong day and leave only to discover court was held later in the day?

At 9:17 a.m., Nov. 22, the day court is to be held, a very friendly man, the one I’ve been waiting for to check me and others for security reasons appeared. He has no idea that I was misinformed. I’m asked to continue to wait where I am until they’re ready to begin.

I do believe when a messenger is selected by a judge, and you are told that person is your point of contact, the message should be accurate. In trying to comply with the judge’s order, it feels almost as though we are being punished for having an interest in the case and trying to keep the community informed.