News Writing (EL 227)

11 Nov 2005

Lab: Court Reporting

I will give you a jumble of facts. Your job will be to put them together in a story, due at the end of the lab.

Update, 10 Nov:

Bring your news writing workbook. The lab is open book, open notes.

We will be operating under the assumption that the events described in Chapter 13, Exercise 2 (the campus rape story) took place on the campus of Springfield University, on Oct 2, 2005.

You have been covering this story since it first broke. Today is the third day of the trial of Tony Ide, a former SU student who is the defendant in this case.

What follows is background information, and a description of what happens outside the courtroom just before the trial is scheduled to conclude.

Update: Changed a reference from "SHU" to "SU."

Update, 11 Nov: Added the following details to the summary.

In your article on the opening of the trial, you noted that Ide seemed confident and sincere on the stand, faltering only when he was pressed to give a last name for "John," a casual acquaintance with whom Ide said he was with during the time of the crime.

In the article you published yesterday, you wrote about a witness for the prosecution, James Drake, a forensic scientist who testified that a sample of blood taken from the victim's hand matched a blood sample taken from Mr. Ide. The defense attorney asked only a single question -- "Mr. Drake, how much did the prosecution pay you to present your testimony against Mr. Ide?" Drake answered, "My daily court fee is $400." You almost didn't include that in your article, since Drake has been testifying in similar circumstances for ten years, and you know for a fact that Drake doesn't pocket the $400 himself -- he uses it to pay his lab assistants, his secretary, and additional expenses. Still, because overspending and misconduct at that very same forensic lab was an issue in the County Attorney election, you briefly mentioned it towards the bottom.

Background Information

In the story you wrote after the arrest, you quoted prosecutor Ralph Gingrich as saying, "The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania intends to charge the suspect with rape. We intend to introduce DNA evidence that places the defendant at the scene of the crime, and we're confident that the jury will find the evidence compelling."

In that story, you drew on a police report, which indicated that Ide first became a suspect after Officer Jose Lopez responded to a 911 call at 890 Bourney Avenue. A houseguest, Sally Harm, of 2106 Chapel Hill Road, had become disoriented after misplacing her medicine. Paramedics who arrived on the scene treated Harm on the scene; she declined transport to a hospital, and the paramedics left. No charges were filed, but Lopez when Lopez first arrived, he noticed Ide dumping a large collection of knives into a box and moving the box out of the kitchen. When Lopez asked Ide what was in the box, Ide opened the lid, and said that he had purchased the knives with the intention of taking a cooking class, and that he was boxing them up in order to return them. They were a set of inexpensive kitchen knives, of the kind routinely marketed on late-night cable shopping channels. Lopez ran a check on Ide, and found he was convicted of DUI in 2002, had been sentenced to community service, which he fulfilled without incident.

Your story quoted Harm as saying, “Tony got mad at me when I used one of his knives to cut a peanut-butter sandwich – I can’t imagine that he’d use a knife to hurt anybody. He’s a great cook.”

That story appeared on Oct 5, shortly after the arrest. The preliminary hearing took place on Oct 6. At that time, Gingrich noted that Drummond (the victim) picked Ide out of a police line-up, that Ide has a red tattoo on his neck in the area where Drummond said her assailant had a scar, and that Ide is known to be fond of his knife collection. Preliminary results of DNA testing indicate that it is likely Ide was at the scene of the crime, although a backlog of cases at the processing lab mean that full results won’t be available for another three weeks. Drummond was released on $50,000 bail, and ordered to return Oct 12 for the arraignment.

In your story on the arraignment, which took place on Oct 12, you reported that Ide entered a “not guilty” plea when the judge, Thomas Dickerson III, indicted him for felony assault. Ide was accompanied by his defense attorney, Richard Delano. His trial date was set for Nov 9. Dickerson and Delano have a back history, which you know because you covered the July robbery trial of John A. Intaglio (details available in exercises 17 and 18).

Ide’s trial started on Nov 9. The prosecution took up the whole day. Your brief story on the first day of the trial appeared in the morning paper Nov 10. The trial continued, with the defense taking over. That story is in the paper this morning, Nov 11.

[See the top of this section for updates.]

Today, the defense is expected to rest its case, and the jury is expected to begin deliberations.

This Morning...

Outside the Springfield Circuit Courthouse

On the front steps, you find a noisy crowd, including several students holding signs with the slogans “Take back the night!” and “One in Four!”

A young woman with a megaphone is rallying the crowd. You count about 15 people, six of which are bearing signs.

“Who are we?” she asks.

“Survivors!” a few voices in the crowd respond.

“What do we want?” she shouts.


“When do we want it?”


You count six people in the crowd holding signs. These six are shouting along with the speaker. The rest are milling around or watching.

The young woman launches into a little speech. “Because one in four college-aged women have survived rape or an attempted rape, we’re here today because we want to see justice done.”

A few voices shout “Justice!”

The young woman continues. “Tony Ide is a monster who should be taken off the street.”


The young woman notices that you are taking notes. She stops talking.

A voice behind you calls out, “Tammy, didn’t you used to date Tony?”

You turn around and see a young man, about 20, with a scraggly beard, wearing an SU sweatshirt.

“You went out with him for about a year, didn’t you?” says the young man. “That night at Milo’s house, you said Tony raped you, but then you sent out that e-mail apologizing to everyone, and you got back together for weeks.”

Another young man, standing with the first, calls out, “And he dumped you two months later because he said you were psycho!”

“We’re not here to talk about me!” shouts the young woman. “We’re here to get justice for Danielle! We’re here because we’re sick to death of being afraid when we walk home! We’re here because one in four is too many!”

Just the, a police van pulls up. Two police officers, one of whom you recognize as officer Jose Lopez, bring out Tony Ide. He’s about six feet tall, with piercing green eyes. He wears an orange prison suit, with handcuffs and leg irons.

“We’re here to see Tony Ide put behind bars! You bastard, Tony! I hope they cut off your dick!” shouts the woman.

The driver of the police van starts to pull out, momentarily blocking your view of Ide and the protestors. The two young men behind you come forward for a closer look.

“Did Tony just give her the finger?” asks the young man in the sweatshirt.

“I don’t blame him,” says the second young man.

As you move to a new position, you pass near the young man wearing the sweatshirt.

You glance at your watch and notice that court will be in session in a few minutes. You know that you’ve got a seat reserved, but you know judge Dickerson doesn’t like people coming into his courtroom late. Given all the noise out here, the judge might be in a bad mood.

Do you

A) Talk to the young men
B) Talk to the woman with the megaphone
C) Head right into the courtroom

[In class Friday, you will be given the next chunk of the story.]

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Reflections on Court Reporting
Excerpt: Lab: Court Reporting -- News Writing (EL 227)...
Weblog: AshleeLupchinsky
Tracked: November 14, 2005 09:37 PM

Take it easy on us on this day Dr. Jerz! lol.

Posted by: Lou Gagliardi at November 8, 2005 09:17 PM

I like it! I like it!!

Posted by: ElyseBranam at November 10, 2005 07:23 PM
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