Laughing in Courtrooms

I can’t stop smiling. And for no reason.

The last few months have been crazy to say the least. Two weeks into my gig as Kauai’s crime reporter, I called my former Las Vegas editor and cried, “I wrote a story about a cat! A CAT!”

I think he might have had a chuckle.

I then called my friend from Houston – the best courts reporter I know – and said, “Tell me everything about law. Just break it all down for me. How do courts work?”

He basically told me to go F— myself.

My professor once told me he saw I had potential to make it, but I had to weave myself through it. Get to know the people who have the information, talk to those so-called experts, interpret the information, and convey their message to the public in the easiest, most concise way.

Essentially I have to source build, news gather, fact check and report the facts – You know, do my job.

Lately, I’ve been sitting in court proceedings, and it’s actually fun!

The first day I arrived at court, it was a Wednesday. My editor was Tom Hasslinger and he took me on a little tour of the police station and circuit court.

We tried to visit the prosecutor, but he was busy, so we went over to courtroom six and sat in the gallery and watched one of the proceedings. I don’t even remember what case or what was happening.

I just remember being excited. Thrilled and thinking, “Wow.”

Tom said, “This is all yours.” (He actually said that.)

We drove back to the newsroom, which when I first saw it I impressed by its size, and got to work.

My first story on my beat was about KPD wanting to hire more officers. It was a tiny little 10-incher maybe and it made the local page.

After that I think it was all features.

Until the Lihue murder. And my engines revved up.

I’ve done crime reporting before. In Houston. Where millions of people live.

My stories got lost among those of the amazing reporters who ran around the Chron’s lively newsroom.

But here, it was just me.

And crime is my thing.

One day here on Kauai, I was sitting in courtroom two during an early morning proceeding and I started to laugh.

It started with a smile. One of the deputy prosecutors cracked a smile after what someone said in open court. I noticed and laughed. You know, because I’m a professional.

I controlled myself. Kept taking notes. But suddenly, I noticed others were smiling, too.

Then someone walked out because their cellphone went off. The bailiff’s eyes turned to hot coal stones.

I laughed out loud and covered my mouth.

Not my finest moment.

But at the end of the day, the story got written and the news got reported.

Some of my journo friends from other newsrooms in bigger cities laugh at me sometimes when I talk about my crime stories.

Hey, it’s Kauai. We got some bloody stories to tell, some corruption to uncover and yup, there’s a lot of ice.

Comments (1)

Hi michelle my name is michelle. I noticed you been following my criminal case in judge valenciano court. I would really like to speak with you about some corruption issues in my case and something about a plea offer that the new prosecutor in our case wanted to secretly get a hearing so the garden island paper wouldnt know but im trying to figure out why there trying to keep my case hush hush from you. My lawyer said my case is all political which i dont understand

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