More of our local legal cases should go to trial, so we can learn the truth

For almost a decade, I’ve argued that more of our local legal cases should go to trial. I’ve been reminded of that again this week.

Our local newspaper, The Union, likes to be the court of public opinion, seeking to “frame” public dialogue based on its own beliefs, conflicts of interest, missing facts — or whoever whispered in its ear last over lunch. I’ve read some twisted and preemptive reporting in this “community newspaper.” We all have.

Nowadays social media is creeping up all around it, so it’s harder to control the “community messaging,” as The Union has in the past.

The same goes for “whisper campaigns,” another twisted form of communication in little towns like ours.

But the court proceedings often turn up the facts — in depositions and discovery.

We learn the stories — and the backstories — in all the excruciating detail. It’s all a matter of public record.

This process leads to a meritocracy, not a “good old boys” network, where judgments are made based on facts. And that’s how it should be.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

13 thoughts on “More of our local legal cases should go to trial, so we can learn the truth”

  1. The legal system in Nevada county needs the Department of Justice come in and do an investigation. Here in podunk we have the sheriff making laws and having the rubber stamp BOS pass them without even reading them. Where else does law enforcement rather than the legislature make up laws. Dumb down the town so the norm is that the sheriff runs the place, instead of it’s citizens. The cop shop needs to enforce the laws put on the books by us—– not make them up as they go. It’s like an old Western Movie where the sheriff is bought off by the rich cattle baron, and drives away (or arrests) all the good citizens.

    1. Law enforcement controls the narrative in our towns, that’s for sure. I know Michael Moore investigated legal issues in our towns — in that case it was the courts. It did some good. Now it’s the police who are controlling the narrative on all sorts of legal issues. In an article called “embezzlement” the reporter allows the Grass Valley police to drive the narrative throughout the article, without even contacting the DA. And not until the last sentence does it read that the subjects weren’t available for comment. In this case, The Union’s publisher sits on the board of the organization the newspaper is writing about. it is a conflict of interest. Small towns need a “code of ethics.” LOL.

  2. Too many times I read articles in the Union wanting so much more. They seem to write articles in a way to please those that are their audience. Who is their audience? After reading the ‘story’ of Julia Jordan I once again am left with far more questions than answers, AGAIN!

    1. The Union just trashed Julia’s career for her, without even interviewing her, her lawyer or the DA. I’ve never seen a photo run that big on Page 1. “Judge and jury.” And The Union’s publisher, Jim Hemig, sits on the GVDA board. It’s just the latest example. I suspect one of these efforts will backfire one day and result in some aggressive counter litigation. Most people won’t put up with this.

  3. Initially it all seems reminiscent of Terry’s ongoing trial ( or just the reporting on it). They discovered the embezzlement shortly after it happened yet it took close to a year to charge her with a crime? I look forward to the rest of the story. Thanks to the union for half of the story, again.

    1. Well certainly the reporting is the same. I hope both cases go to trial. It will shine a bright light on what The Union reports as the truth and the truth. It will put The Union, its informants and their tactics on trial.

    1. Even after Todd’s visit to an “adult’s only” joint in Mexico he remains wound up tighter than a drum. Maybe he and Barry can go out to a movie together, like a “date night.” ROFLOL.

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