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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Justin Verlander responds after Astros block Free Press from media session

The Houston Astros blocked a Detroit Free Press reporter from attending Justin Verlander’s postgame media session on Wednesday night, violating Baseball Writers’ Association of America protocol and possibly the MLB collective bargaining agreement.

The Astros blocked Free Press writer Anthony Fenech at Verlander’s request, according to Gene Dias, Astros vice president of communications. Dias said Verlander was “adamant” that he would not speak to any credentialed media while Fenech was present.

Fenech has been the Tigers beat writer for the Free Press since 2015.

On Thursday, Verlander tweeted that the block stemmed from “his unethical behavior in the past.”  Verlander did not mention Fenech by name. It wasn’t immediately clear what Verlander was referring to.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 22, 2019 at 01:46 PM | 133 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: justin verlander

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   1. Nasty Nate Posted: August 22, 2019 at 02:04 PM (#5873505)
The game happened to be one of the biggest gambling upsets in baseball history, apparently.
   2. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 22, 2019 at 02:12 PM (#5873507)
Jets over Colts, Villanova over Georgetown, Tigers over Astros... we'll be telling our grandkids stories about these games forever.
   3. JJ1986 Posted: August 22, 2019 at 02:15 PM (#5873508)
Verlander should at least cop to what actually happened. He didn't just "decline to speak" to the reporter.
   4. JL72 Posted: August 22, 2019 at 02:26 PM (#5873511)
Verlander should at least cop to what actually happened. He didn't just "decline to speak" to the reporter.


Agreed. I am a Verlander fan, but not about this (or at least how he has approached it so far).
   5. Blastin Posted: August 22, 2019 at 02:38 PM (#5873516)
Verlander should at least cop to what actually happened. He didn't just "decline to speak" to the reporter.


Yeah, dude, you're not getting out of this one by being vague. Did he try to go after Kate? (I'm not joking, maybe the dude is a creep.)
   6. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: August 22, 2019 at 02:42 PM (#5873517)
Like too many Americans, Verlander has no idea what ironically means.
   7. For the Turnstiles (andeux) Posted: August 22, 2019 at 02:43 PM (#5873518)
Is there any sense of solidarity from the other beat writers on this? Or do they just shrug and go ahead with their interviews? (Or did they not know what about it?)
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 22, 2019 at 02:58 PM (#5873521)
(I'm not joking, maybe the dude is a creep.)


I don't know if he went after Kate, but he does have a bit of a creepy past.
   9. Zonk Rocks You Like a Sharpiecane Posted: August 22, 2019 at 03:02 PM (#5873524)
Like too many Americans, Verlander has no idea what ironically means.


You mean.... it doesn't mean either coincidentally, or, "I feel like I need to start this sentence with an adverb"?
   10. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 22, 2019 at 03:03 PM (#5873525)
Speculation is that Verlander doesn't like Fenech as a result of Fenech (allegedly) having a being a reckless drunk and/or harassing women. More details here.

Edit: Coke for RR.
   11. Padraic Posted: August 22, 2019 at 03:03 PM (#5873526)
Like too many Americans, Verlander has no idea what ironically means.


Really, I thought it was correct in this sense, in that's it's the opposite of what you might expect. News organizations constantly look for quotes and responses from subjects in their stories. Usually it's a newspaper who gets the no comment from a player. A player getting a "no comment" from a newspaper is pretty much the definition of irony.
   12. Zonk Rocks You Like a Sharpiecane Posted: August 22, 2019 at 03:06 PM (#5873528)
Really, I thought it was correct in this sense, in that's it's the opposite of what you might expect. News organizations constantly look for quotes and responses from subjects in their stories. Usually it's a newspaper who gets the no comment from a player. A player getting a "no comment" from a newspaper is pretty much the definition of irony.


Meh - if he hadn't set it up by mentioning multiple times that they never followed up before.

That's the irony!
   13. JJ1986 Posted: August 22, 2019 at 03:19 PM (#5873531)
That Detroit Sports Rag article reads like it was written for a Deadspin knockoff in 2004 by a high school student. The prose is so so so bad.
   14. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: August 22, 2019 at 03:25 PM (#5873535)
Like too many Americans, Verlander has no idea what ironically means.


Bender Bending Rodriguez (singing):
The use of words expressing something other than their literal intention, Now that is irony!
   15. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: August 22, 2019 at 03:27 PM (#5873538)
Also, it rained on his wedding day.
   16. Zonk Rocks You Like a Sharpiecane Posted: August 22, 2019 at 03:51 PM (#5873549)
Also, it rained on his wedding day.


Which is - ironically? - not an American failure to grok irony!
   17. Howie Menckel Posted: August 22, 2019 at 04:34 PM (#5873567)
Yankees beat writer

Kristie Ackert
@ByKristieAckert
·
12m
Replying to
@OrtizKicks
This isn’t the first time the Astros have decided what reporter can or cannot go into the clubhouse. Their PR team has acted very small minded on this.
   18. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 22, 2019 at 04:37 PM (#5873569)
@EvanDrellich
·
A fun did you know from half a decade ago: the Astros held a meeting with the top two editors at the Houston Chronicle when I was there in an attempt to get me fired. Why? Because I asked about and wrote critical things.
   19. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 22, 2019 at 04:38 PM (#5873571)
Astros statement:


In a statement, the Astros defended their decision to block Fenech's access because of "the past history between Fenech and one of our players."

“Reporter Anthony Fenech was delayed temporarily from entering the Astros clubhouse following last night’s game," Dias said in a statement Thursday. "This course of action was taken after taking into consideration the past history between Fenech and one of our players, Justin Verlander, Verlander’s legitimate concerns about past interactions with Fenech, and the best interests of the other media members working the game. We chose to prioritize these factors when making this decision. Fenech was allowed access to the clubhouse shortly after other media members and had the opportunity to approach Verlander or any player he needed. We believe that our course of action in this isolated case was appropriate.”
   20. The_Ex Posted: August 22, 2019 at 04:45 PM (#5873574)
The sportsrag article is old and Verlander and Fenech must have interacted while Verlander was with Detroit. There must be something newer that is causing this?
   21. JJ1986 Posted: August 22, 2019 at 04:46 PM (#5873575)
The Astros statement reads that they don't think they have to follow MLB rules if they don't want to.
   22. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 22, 2019 at 05:05 PM (#5873589)
This course of action was taken after taking into consideration the past history between Fenech and one of our players, Justin Verlander, Verlander’s legitimate concerns about past interactions with Fenech, and the best interests of the other media members working the game.
Verlander & the Astros seem to believe that a presumption of legitimacy attaches to their actions, despite their failure to articulate the reason for their actions. Don’t think it works that way for public figures - some fines from MLB would seem to be in order.
   23. Brian C Posted: August 22, 2019 at 05:32 PM (#5873599)
I've translated the Astros statement into layspeak:

"Yeah, we did exactly what we're accused of doing. #### you."
   24. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: August 22, 2019 at 05:43 PM (#5873603)
Starting a war with the BBWAA is a bold move in a close race for the Cy Young award.
   25. Zonk Rocks You Like a Sharpiecane Posted: August 22, 2019 at 05:45 PM (#5873604)
I'm sure Howie can speak to it better than I, but yeah...

I have a couple of friends who handled a team 'beat' - one for MLB and one for the NFL - and that's a really tough road to travel... They were (one is still a sportswriter, but moved on from a team beat, the other isn't) both good writers, smart guys, and really wanted to produce content that was insightful by weaving in what they learned on the beat and the regular clubhouse access rather than just being stenographers... as I imagine is true of most beat writers, actually.

But - they'd just get continuously beaten down by the fact that any time that "inside scoop" led to a non-complimentary story, even if they weren't outright banned, suddenly no one wants to talk to them (even if the piece was quite correct and fair... to say nothing of interesting and insightful to the fans who read the stuff).

So sure.... I'm down with #### the Astros.
   26. Howie Menckel Posted: August 22, 2019 at 06:01 PM (#5873609)
they'd just get continuously beaten down by the fact that any time that "inside scoop" led to a non-complimentary story, even if they weren't outright banned, suddenly no one wants to talk to them

it is a very tricky balance.

the best thing you can do is make absolutely certain that the team or athlete knows what's coming, and that any defense they would have is prominently presented in a story. if you do it just right, the subject always expects the absolute worst - which is what you want.

that's because we're all prone to the 'expectations game' - so even if it's a damaging story, as long as it's not as bad as they expect, you're often okay.

I once sat down with a coach of a struggling team, and told him that I wanted to lay out exactly what my criticisms were going to be.

"I'd rather stab you in the front than stab you in the back," I said.

he quite understandably replied, "Why do you have to stab me at all?" lol

another time a very wealthy sportsman didn't want me to reveal that he gambled hundreds of thousands of dollars per weekend, because that went against his religion's tenets. he said I was a "bad person" if I wrote it.

"Well, then I'm a bad person," I told him.

yeah, that guy never talked to me again. sometimes, you just gotta be the bad cop.

as far as the Cy Young voting goes, it would be unprofessional for anyone to have this incident or similar impact their vote at all.

can I guarantee all the voters feel the same way? not really. but they should.

I was glad when Karl Malone won his MVP, maybe a little because not only did Jordan win all the time, but he was a dick.

but I had a vote that year, and I picked Jordan because he deserved it.
   27. Zonk Rocks You Like a Sharpiecane Posted: August 22, 2019 at 06:10 PM (#5873610)
The guy who is no longer a sportswriter (per se, he does some ghost writing now so I'm not comfortable naming him) did say that he actually credits "it" -- that whole concept of the tricky balance -- for making him a better writer.

I.e., he labored a lot more over language and ultimately tried to write for two different audiences and attempted to serve both without either realizing it. On the one hand - trying to provide some insight for the fan/reader, OTOH, trying to frame it a benign/even verging on complimentary way.

Obviously, it was the NFL guy - but for instance, if the QB was struggling to learn the playbook... writing the piece emphasizing how hard he was actually trying to learn it while simultaneously making clear to the fan/reader that it was a problem that he just wasn't getting it.

He'll readily admit that he was actually a somewhat poor "pure reporter" because of it - deadlines, the inherent idea that you report a narrative - you don't/can't build one... at least, not if you're doing your job right....

   28. Howie Menckel Posted: August 22, 2019 at 09:27 PM (#5873635)
he labored a lot more over language and ultimately tried to write for two different audiences and attempted to serve both without either realizing it. On the one hand - trying to provide some insight for the fan/reader, OTOH, trying to frame it a benign/even verging on complimentary way.

well, I wouldn't quite say that. you should have in mind your subject, and whether each turn of phrase is fair. but ultimately, you work for the reader. the playbook one is a good example of providing fair context.

Ex-Rangers hockey fighter Tie Domi once had a revelation after a practice while reading the newspaper on the exercise bike. he told a teammate that he had just figured out that writers don't write the articles for THEM, but for fans. he seemed amazed at this burst of insight - and to be fair, not every athlete ever figures that out.
:)
   29. The Duke Posted: August 22, 2019 at 10:27 PM (#5873646)
Maybe there was a day when the press was to be respected and treated that way but no more. Don’t know what happened and don’t care but I don’t think the press should be given any benefit of the doubt. Kudos to astros for standing by their man
   30. ReggieThomasLives Posted: August 23, 2019 at 12:47 AM (#5873671)
Fenech also regularly trolls Verlander on twitter for the past few years.
   31. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: August 23, 2019 at 01:07 PM (#5873780)
Heyman and others saying that keeping Fenech out is a violation of the CBA. The Athletic's Brittany Ghiroli is saying the issue stems from Fenech's "eavesdropping" on conversations and using that material in reporting.
   32. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 23, 2019 at 01:45 PM (#5873783)
The CBA is an agreement between the MLB and MLBPA. Even if this move "violates the CBA", its not like they have to fix it to make Fenech happy. They can tell Fenech to go scratch.
   33. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 23, 2019 at 02:02 PM (#5873787)
It's got nothing to do with the CBA. It's about the agreement between the BBWAA and MLB. The BBWAA, understandably, wants to make sure none of its writers can be blackballed by players if they write something uncomplimentary. Dan Szymborski has gone on at great length (and with a great deal of outrage) about this on Twitter.
   34. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: August 23, 2019 at 02:04 PM (#5873788)
Thanks for the correction.
   35. bunyon Posted: August 23, 2019 at 02:07 PM (#5873790)
Is there a mechanism in the agreement between MLB and BBWAA that provides a route for teams to ban reporters? In general, I think that should be avoided and that, probably, the Astros are being jerks here (not to mention violating the agreement). On the other hand, I can totally imagine someone doing something egregious enough to warrant loss of privilege. Most of what I read from reporters is that it simply doesn't matter what the reporter did, they have to let him in. I assume that's said in the heat of the moment and they don't really believe that.

So, what do you do with a reporter who crosses the line? (I'm not saying that happened here - it's a hypothetical).
   36. Wayne Newton's pet monkey (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: August 23, 2019 at 02:31 PM (#5873794)
Ex-Rangers hockey fighter Tie Domi once had a revelation after a practice while reading the newspaper on the exercise bike. he told a teammate that he had just figured out that writers don't write the articles for THEM, but for fans. he seemed amazed at this burst of insight - and to be fair, not every athlete ever figures that out.


For that matter, not every athlete can read, period.
   37. base ball chick Posted: August 23, 2019 at 04:23 PM (#5873850)
RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 22, 2019 at 04:37 PM (#5873569)
@EvanDrellich
·
A fun did you know from half a decade ago: the Astros held a meeting with the top two editors at the Houston Chronicle when I was there in an attempt to get me fired. Why? Because I asked about and wrote critical things.


- evan is speaking the truth (never mind how i found that out)

i discovered that the astros, when the acquired jose valverde, suddenly changed his birthday on the team info and didn't tell anyone. but i noticed. so i wrote to the astros beat reporter, telling him what i found, and telling him i was going to blog this, but i wanted to let him know first (yeah, i'm a sweet grrrrl)

so he did - and the team had to admit that the new (older) birthday was correct and age-gate happened.

he published the fact that valverde was 18 months older than he originally said. all true

he suddenly was no longer the beat reporter and was shoved onto the soccer beat

- richard justice was the columnist at the time, so he had more leeway, but even he was careful

the chron writes whatever the team wants. last i heard, the chron owns some part of the team
   38. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 23, 2019 at 05:15 PM (#5873873)
I was glad when Karl Malone won his MVP, maybe a little because not only did Jordan win all the time, but he was a dick.


Isn't Malone also a dick? He impregnated a teenager and then refused to acknowledge or support the resultant child until he grew up and became a professional athlete himself.
   39. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 23, 2019 at 05:25 PM (#5873878)
i discovered that the astros, when the acquired jose valverde, suddenly changed his birthday on the team info and didn't tell anyone. but i noticed. so i wrote to the astros beat reporter, telling him what i found, and telling him i was going to blog this, but i wanted to let him know first (yeah, i'm a sweet grrrrl)

so he did - and the team had to admit that the new (older) birthday was correct and age-gate happened.


That's fantastic. Great job.
   40. base ball chick Posted: August 23, 2019 at 05:38 PM (#5873885)
thank you tom
   41. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: August 23, 2019 at 06:21 PM (#5873896)
Is there a mechanism in the agreement between MLB and BBWAA that provides a route for teams to ban reporters? In general, I think that should be avoided and that, probably, the Astros are being jerks here (not to mention violating the agreement). On the other hand, I can totally imagine someone doing something egregious enough to warrant loss of privilege. Most of what I read from reporters is that it simply doesn't matter what the reporter did, they have to let him in. I assume that's said in the heat of the moment and they don't really believe that.

Club/Media Regulations

"Visitors in the clubhouse, including accredited media members, should conduct themselves in a professional manner. There shall be no seeking of autographs, no touching or removing of equipment or personal items from lockers, and no sampling of players’ food spreads. Clubhouses are work places. Clubhouse business should be conducted as expeditiously as possible with a minimum of disruption of regular game routines. Members of the media should not excessively linger in the clubhouse when not interviewing players. Members of the media who violate the code of conduct set forth in this paragraph shall be subject to sanctions, including the loss of their accreditation as provided for in paragraph 17 below."

So there are really only a couple of things that reporters are forbidden for doing in the clubhouse.

So, what do you do with a reporter who crosses the line? (I'm not saying that happened here - it's a hypothetical).

"Any club whose personnel violate these regulations will be disciplined. Any member of the media who violates these regulations will lose his or her accreditation."

I believe that MLB issues the credentials so if a team reports that a credentialed reporter has broken the rules then MLB will revoke the reporter's credential.
   42. bobm Posted: August 25, 2019 at 12:23 AM (#5874256)
Detroit Free Press: "Houston Astros, Justin Verlander and Detroit Free Press: Here's what happened"

In a tweet Thursday, Verlander said Fenech showed “unethical” past behavior. 

It stems primarily from two incidents, Fenech says. 

The relationship began to deteriorate on Aug. 22, 2017, when Fenech joined a conversation Verlander was having with Al Kaline in the Tigers' clubhouse at Comerica Park. Fenech had just finished an interview with Verlander a few minutes prior, and Kaline's name had come up. Fenech began talking to the two men. [...]

Fenech posted two tweets about the exchange [...]

That night, a Tigers media relations official told Fenech that Verlander was unhappy with [Fenech's] tweets. The next day, Verlander ripped Fenech in a profanity-laced rant inside the Tigers dugout in front of coaches, saying that his conversation with Kaline was private. [...]

The next issue came on Sept. 12, 2018, during an interview that went on and off the record and ended with a disagreement about the context surrounding the exchange of a phone number.  

Fenech had been assigned to ask Verlander about a Bleacher Report story published Aug. 9, 2018, in which Verlander said the Tigers “misdiagnosed” an injury in 2015. The Free Press was the first Detroit media outlet to ask Verlander about the comments.

[...]

Here’s how Fenech remembers the 2018 interview:

* He interviewed Verlander at Comerica Park on Sept. 12 and asked for permission to turn on his recorder. Verlander said yes. It was Verlander's first trip to Detroit since the Bleacher Report story was published. The conversation alternated on and off the record. Given the nature of the conversation, Fenech told Verlander he’d return after the game to verify quotes for clarity, which is not a typical practice. Verlander said, "I appreciate that," according to Fenech's tape of the interview. The conversation ended. [...]

* Fenech handed Verlander his business card and told him that if he needed to add to or clarify the quote, he could call him before the Free Press’ print deadline time. Fenech then told Verlander he wanted to preserve their working relationship. It was during this exchange that Verlander told Fenech he crossed the line. Verlander felt  Fenech was using the situation to gain the pitcher's personal cell phone number. Fenech told Verlander he misunderstood the exchange of the business card. Fenech told Verlander that it wasn't his intention. [...]

On Friday, I [Chris Thomas, sports editor at the Detroit Free Press] reviewed the audio of Fenech's interview with Verlander for the first time. And while it's clear to me that Verlander was on the record, I did discover that Fenech crossed an ethical line when early in the conversation he offered to give Verlander advice on how to respond to the misdiagnosis question: This point has been firmly made to Fenech. [...]

The Free Press will make a formal complaint to the league. As part of it, we’ll urge MLB to adhere to its collective bargaining agreement.

Not because a ballplayer wouldn’t talk to a reporter.

But because the ballplayer’s franchise did not act professionally.

It’s written in the CBA’s Club-Media Regulations: “Any club whose personnel violate these regulations will be disciplined.”

We’re just asking MLB to put its weight behind this rule like it would any other.

So this never happens again.
   43. Howie Menckel Posted: August 25, 2019 at 12:42 AM (#5874258)
"He interviewed Verlander at Comerica Park on Sept. 12 and asked for permission to turn on his recorder. Verlander said yes. It was Verlander's first trip to Detroit since the Bleacher Report story was published. The conversation alternated on and off the record. Given the nature of the conversation, Fenech told Verlander he’d return after the game to verify quotes for clarity, which is not a typical practice."

ok, this.... kind of weird.

now, Columbia J School for many years, iirc, had a mantra of "never let anyone tell you anything off the record."

in my experience, that's dumb. if you are getting toward a logical conclusion based only on what you have learned that is not going to wind up being fully or sometimes even partly accurate - who benefits from that?

now, sometimes off the record is, "Dude, give the guy a break. this happened right after his wife threw him out for finding hookers and blow in their bed when he got home early."

yeah, that's probably not gonna work.

but, "Dude, give the guy a break. he just found out his parent has ALS and he's not handling it well. so he yelled a a couple of fans, so what?"

that's where you go to the editor with a fuller story (well, gotta verify first) and you go from there. doesn't mean you can't write about the exchange as factual and public. but maybe then you don't have the ham-fisted, helicoptered-in columnist pile on with an A-1 column that demands that the guy be traded.

a number of times, a "major story" was published that was batshit crazy. I'd talk - off the record - to a key player the next day. invariably they would tell me, "I told the reporter there was context that they badly needed to know, but I can't get into it in the record (or even 'not for attribution,' when only a couple of people could be the source)." and the reporter wasn't having it - and it ended badly for them.

also - and I suspect some if you might intuit this - the whole point of a tape recorder is to clarify what IS and what is NOT on the record.

while the interviewee - especially a veteran star like Verlander - is talking into the recorder, that is ALL on the record. if he says, "Can I go off the record for a minute," that you can hear that on the recorder. you know what you can't hear? what he says next.

now, that "off the record" time can be anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. but there's no need for confusion.

so this is a bit odd, I must admit.

I had a very minor version of this last year. basically an executive from another country told me something that seemed innocuous to any American. but in the home country, it caused a bit of a stir.

the executive - scrambling - said he thought that part was off the record. it very clearly was not. I told him I'd be happy to play the tape for him, and he'd notice the times when he said, "can we go off the record for a moment?" and then... nothing. his 'moment' - that didn't happen.

all that said, the comment in question was not particularly relevant to the story. I told him we had decided that there was no harm in just removing it, to eliminate confusion in his home country (he was speaking metaphorically, but that was not clear).

this all happened in about 30 minutes. he didn't have a leg to stand on in terms of dictating our decision-making. but because it was really an aside, we didn't have to roast him on the spit for a week, either.

the whole thing ended quite amicably. I stuck to my guns, he realized his situation - not great - and he appreciated that because of the circumstances, this could end well.

(this might be WAY more than anyone wants to know about making sausage - or laws, I realize.)
   44. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 25, 2019 at 01:00 AM (#5874260)
There shall be no seeking of autographs, no touching or removing of equipment or personal items from lockers, and no sampling of players’ food spreads.
You would hope this would go without saying.
   45. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 25, 2019 at 01:08 AM (#5874261)
(this might be WAY more than anyone wants to know about making sausage - or laws, I realize.)
I, for one, very much appreciate the professional insight.
   46. Joe Bivens, Slack Rumped Rutabaga Head Posted: August 25, 2019 at 06:30 PM (#5874321)
the executive - scrambling - said he thought that part was off the record. it very clearly was not. I told him I'd be happy to play the tape for him, and he'd notice the times when he said, "can we go off the record for a moment?" and then... nothing. his 'moment' - that didn't happen.


This sounds like a reverse of the game "Simon Says".

I mean, if the interviewee says "can I go off the record?", you grant it, but if the interviewee realizes they should have asked but didn't, and then asks that what they said not be on the record, you don't grant it? This sounds....###### up.
   47. PreservedFish Posted: August 25, 2019 at 07:33 PM (#5874332)
I've taken a part-time job as a journalist and have been conducting some interviews for the first time in my life. I have literally zero training, have not read a "for dummies" guide or anything. I don't write on strict deadlines so I've been offering interviewees the chance to look over the quotes I'm using in my pieces - which I often clean up and rearrange for clarity/concision. It seems like the right thing to do.
   48. Howie Menckel Posted: August 25, 2019 at 07:54 PM (#5874339)
well, it depends on the medium you are writing for, and the sophistication of the person you are interviewing.

a professional journalist does not generally offer interviewees a "chance to look over the quotes."

but all lines have blurred these days. and if you are just starting out, if I squint I can almost see your point of view.

it would be far worse to be on the other edge - where you are publishing inaccurate info, for instance.
   49. PreservedFish Posted: August 25, 2019 at 09:04 PM (#5874352)
Well, it's a blog, without many pretensions. I get paid, but whether or not I'm considered "professional" is uncertain. Anyway, the point isn't to get things super duper right, it's just to be courteous. And it felt wrong to edit someone's words without giving them an option to veto those edits, even if they're minor and almost certainly unobjectionable.
   50. Howie Menckel Posted: August 25, 2019 at 09:31 PM (#5874356)
I respect the abstract sentiment, I really do.

but that isn't journalism.

which doesn't make it bad, or anything. and I take it that your topics are not of civic importance. I would hope that if you covered a contentious city council hearing and have a tape of the incendiary comments of various members, you aren't then going to them afterwards. that would be an effort to "be courteous" to public officials at the expense of the public's absolute right to know.

it might feel good to be nice to those nasty people - but at the same time you would be screwing the public.

if you tape the interviews and you have a good sense of context, I don't really see a need to have them "look over the quotes."
   51. PreservedFish Posted: August 25, 2019 at 09:53 PM (#5874361)
Thanks for the advice, Howie. No, I'm not likely to uncover news of civic importance. But regardless, I may decline to extend that courtesy in the future.
   52. Howie Menckel Posted: August 25, 2019 at 11:15 PM (#5874369)
I really appreciate your compassion, PF. and if you don't have a recorder, your instincts might be best.

fun fact: over the decades, I found that virtually every sportswriter used a recorder - yet many/most news reporters did not.

that seems pretty messed up, given that it is Sports that is "the toy department."

Former NY Times Editor Jill Abramson embarrassed herself in her recent book with this gem: "I do not record. I’ve never recorded. I’m a very fast note-taker. When someone kind of says the 'it' thing that I have really wanted, I don’t start scribbling right away. I have an almost photographic memory and so I wait a beat or two while they’re onto something else, and then I write down the previous thing they said. Because you don’t want your subject to get nervous about what they just said."

ok, that's NOT a photographic memory. but that's the least of the creepiness.
   53. PreservedFish Posted: August 26, 2019 at 07:25 AM (#5874375)
I record interviews and couldn't even imagine conducting one without a recording.
   54. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 26, 2019 at 08:51 AM (#5874380)
Former NY Times Editor Jill Abramson embarrassed herself in her recent book with this gem: "I do not record. I’ve never recorded. I’m a very fast note-taker. When someone kind of says the 'it' thing that I have really wanted, I don’t start scribbling right away. I have an almost photographic memory and so I wait a beat or two while they’re onto something else, and then I write down the previous thing they said. Because you don’t want your subject to get nervous about what they just said."

ok, that's NOT a photographic memory. but that's the least of the creepiness.
Sheesh. That sounds a lot like the stuff veteran lawyers make up to maintain their belief that the old, no-technology way of doing things is superior and righteous.
   55. DJS Thinks Apples and Oranges are Similar Posted: August 26, 2019 at 09:37 AM (#5874394)
Oops, jumped into this thread *really* late.

Yeah, we (BBWAA) have a separate agreeement with MLB which covers the conditions under which we receive our guaranteed credentials and the rights and responsibilities of both groups. It's in the interest of both parties to have this agreement given we have a bit of a symbiotic relationship. We need access and MLB wants free advertisement and some small ability to control time/place/manner in which we're interacting with players. The MLB CBA language talking about how players treat the media is separate but related, meant to govern the in-stadium relationship between players and MLB's partner in this specific instance, credentialed media.

Teams will have more control over credentials that *they* issue. If Fenech's credential was granted by the Astros, they would have more leeway to pull his credentials than as a BBWAA member. Fenech's had his card since 2012. Incidentally, there's been enough turmoil in the industry that the median member of the BBWAA has only had their card since 2011.

Generally speaking, the other BBWAA members will join someone like Fenech in solidarity; I know that my editor would have supported me walking out as well if I had been at the game. I don't think anyone in this case did, because while I'm not positive as I haven't talked to anyone at the game, it appears that few were aware at that moment that Fenech had been prevented from accessing the clubhouse.

There are all sorts of very specific BBWAA benefits. For example, if there are no seats left in a press box, we're technically allowed to boot a non-BBWAA member from a seat. That's super-dickish of course and I don't recall anyone doing that (though I'm also go to CIncinnati games the most and there's rarely a crunch for seats, even on opening day).

As for on-record/off-record, I try to be very careful as my situation with teams is more complicated, given that I frequently have to juggle "writer" and "data provider" so I need to maintain a specific arm's-length.

I definitely record everything. If it ever becomes a "he said, they said" thing, I want to be able to have documentation and I want to make sure anything I quote is exactly right. I keep these audio files encrypted separately for security reasons, with the only reference to who is being recorded being a file stored separately that catalogs the sequential filenames. I think it's lazy to not record; nobody's infallible and accurate reporting is part of a serious ethical requirement to be fair to those we interact with as part of the job.

   56. bunyon Posted: August 26, 2019 at 09:53 AM (#5874398)
Thanks for the inside info, everyone.
   57. Wayne Newton's pet monkey (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: August 26, 2019 at 10:00 AM (#5874402)
fun fact: over the decades, I found that virtually every sportswriter used a recorder - yet many/most news reporters did not.


I never did, & I advised my reporters not to. (I was an editor for almost twice as long as I was reporter.) Going to the tape (or whatever) time & time again to transcribe takes an inordinate amount of time, especially assuming that you're writing on a tight deadline (which I was, & generally so were my people).

That's for pretty much routine coverage. If you're covering, I dunno, Jack the Ripper's deathbed confession, go ahead & record it.

Probably my perspective was skewed because I mostly covered trials; recording was, of course, prohibited in court. Heck, at least one judge barred jurors from taking notes, which I found ... interesting.
   58. Howie Menckel Posted: August 26, 2019 at 10:12 AM (#5874411)
Going to the tape (or whatever) time & time again to transcribe takes an inordinate amount of time, especially assuming that you're writing on a tight deadline (which I was, & generally so were my people).

not if you know how to do it right. while recording, you jot down the exact time of the few key moments - and only transcribe them on deadline. this also leaves you with precious later material that is left for your more adept rivals to enjoy. I'd have appreciated the lack of competition.

Courtrooms generally remain bizarre in their resistance to recordings. there was at least a 5-year window where many federal courts barred the use of recorders - while not being aware that smartphones could be used as recorders. the excuse is that they don't want "off the record" mumblings in front of the judge(s) to be published. obviously they could just go to chambers - or realize they shouldn't be off the record so much in a public proceeding.
   59. PreservedFish Posted: August 26, 2019 at 10:18 AM (#5874419)
I am absolutely certain that I'd butcher any quote that I didn't have recorded perfectly.
   60. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 26, 2019 at 10:45 PM (#5874648)

I mean, if the interviewee says "can I go off the record?", you grant it, but if the interviewee realizes they should have asked but didn't, and then asks that what they said not be on the record, you don't grant it? This sounds....###### up.
Far be it from me to speak for the actual reporters here, but I don't understand why you think it's messed up. The thing to remember is that the default rule is that reporters are not only allowed, but professionally obligated to, report (newsworthy) stuff that they learn. They work for the public, not for their sources. For a reporter to agree not to report something is supposed to be the rare exception. And the word "agree" there is key. Sources all the time tell reporters things that they later wish to "take back," but a person saying that something is OTR isn't what makes it OTR; the reporter having agreed to treat it as such is what makes it OTR. And the reporter is only supposed to agree not to publish if there's some greater benefit to the public from concealing the information than from reporting it, such as the reporter learning something important that he couldn't have learned any other way that he can then use to report the story better.

(I am, of course, speaking of the ideal.)
   61. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 26, 2019 at 10:49 PM (#5874649)

Probably my perspective was skewed because I mostly covered trials; recording was, of course, prohibited in court. Heck, at least one judge barred jurors from taking notes, which I found ... interesting.
Most judges bar jurors from taking notes, though it has become far more prevalent than it used to be. The reasons have nothing to do with any reasons relating to spectators being forbidden from recording proceedings, however. The reasons have to do with the ideas that (a) doing so may distract the jurors from the trial, and (b) using notes may distort the jury deliberation process.
   62. Howie Menckel Posted: August 26, 2019 at 11:07 PM (#5874651)
per 60: yes, a public official or an athlete of any renown has to realize that they can't say, "wait, that was off the record." that is exponentially true for every extra media member that is there.

I was once in an Editorial Board meeting with two wealthy real estate executives - think of them as the Oscar and Felix characters. "Oscar" says something incendiary, and "Felix" gamely tried the "wait, that was off the record" gambit. it failed. badly. and "Oscar" never said a peep - he knew he dug his own grave, and owned it. "Felix" would have mortified by the fallout, but it just rolled off "Oscar's" back.

traditionally, everyone who is invited to an Edit Board meeting knows that the whole thing is on the record. many editors will never allow for an exception, but some will on occasion. or the entire meeting ends, and there can be "ex parte" talk.

to add to my cross-chat with attorney David, if info comes up in an "off the record" conversation, it is about as you say. I think barristers call it "fruit from the poisonous tree" - can't be used unless independent and inevitable info is found. and it's important to ensure that the first anonymous source understands that you haven't violated the agreement. if it's a subsequent lawsuit, for instance, it's easy. the story comes and it had nothing to do with that conversation. if it's from another anonymous/solid source - well, you can't sell out that person.

so that can get pretty complicated. for example, sometimes you have a willing source who doesn't realize that publication is going to doom them. reporters not only don't want to do that because they are nice people, but also because you want this 'insider' to stick around.

I've never seen that show "The Wire" - but am I treading on their ground? I was once amused when someone told me I was just like a character on that show.

:)
   63. Zonk Rocks You Like a Sharpiecane Posted: August 26, 2019 at 11:13 PM (#5874654)
courts... no human organization is as steadfastly in love with its anachronistic rules, procedures, and norms as courts.

If there are lost tribes left anywhere in the world, even they say courts are stuck in their ancient past.
   64. Baldrick Posted: August 26, 2019 at 11:39 PM (#5874657)
I'm no one's idea of a professional reporter, but in the limited work I do covering women's soccer, I occasionally tweet comments live from the mixed zone after the game. Obviously those are transcribed from memory, and I do sometimes get them a little bit off. I can't imagine trying to use anything serious from an interview without going back and directly transcribing. I'm decent at note-taking, but there's no way I could get things precise enough that I'd feel comfortable putting quotation marks around them.
   65. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: August 27, 2019 at 09:22 AM (#5874688)
Most judges bar jurors from taking notes, though it has become far more prevalent than it used to be. The reasons have nothing to do with any reasons relating to spectators being forbidden from recording proceedings, however. The reasons have to do with the ideas that (a) doing so may distract the jurors from the trial, and (b) using notes may distort the jury deliberation process.
I was on a jury that deliberated for two weeks, after a two week trial. I was the only person to take notes and thus had a tremendous amount of sway over how the discussion went. We were discussing events with a very complicated timeline, presented over a long period, and frankly no one else had the faintest idea of what happened when and to whom. Some of the jurors didn't even remember the existence of the first witness.

I get why a judge would bar note-taking -- my notes definitely led me to have far more sway than any other juror. But without the notes there's no way I could've discussed the case with any intelligence. It would've been best for everyone to have taken notes.

(There was a guy on the jury who thought that the Adrian Beltre signing assured the 2005 Mariners of a spot in the World Series, and guaranteed that one of Beltre or Bret Boone would win the MVP. So this wasn't the sharpest group around.)
   66. Wayne Newton's pet monkey (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: August 27, 2019 at 09:36 AM (#5874697)

courts... no human organization is as steadfastly in love with its anachronistic rules, procedures, and norms as courts.


At least the U.S. versions don't require the judges & lawyers to wear ####### wigs & ####, as I guess they still do in the pathetically silly-ass UK.
   67. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: August 27, 2019 at 10:31 AM (#5874717)
Most judges bar jurors from taking notes, though it has become far more prevalent than it used to be.


Is this true? IANAL but on both juries I’ve sat on we were given pens and notepads with instructions to make as many notes as we desired. Personally I felt it was more useful to just listen and trust I could go back to the transcripts if it was necessary.

Side note: Jury duty gets a bad rap. I wouldn’t want to do an OJ trial or something but for a trial of a week or less it’s pretty compelling and as civic duties go about the least someone can do to contribute.
   68. Wayne Newton's pet monkey (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: August 27, 2019 at 10:45 AM (#5874726)
Personally I felt it was more useful to just listen and trust I could go back to the transcripts if it was necessary.


???

Transcripts tend not to be available for weeks, if not months, no? Granted, that could certainly have changed because of technological advances, I suppose.
   69. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: August 27, 2019 at 11:21 AM (#5874742)
At least the U.S. versions don't require the judges & lawyers to wear ####### wigs & ####, as I guess they still do in the pathetically silly-ass UK.

FWIW, the main reason judges in the UK have resisted getting rid of them, is because it affords them some level of anonymity.

Which I suppose makes sense. All things considered, you would probably prefer not to be recognised by some bloke you put away for 10 years, while you are ambling around Sainsbury's.
   70. Wayne Newton's pet monkey (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: August 27, 2019 at 12:25 PM (#5874775)
Sorry, but the wigs are idiotic. Let them wear Guy Fawkes masks or clown makeup.

Paper sacks would work, too.

Also, the Dr. Syn scarecrow hoods.
   71. pikepredator Posted: August 27, 2019 at 12:57 PM (#5874785)
This thread is super informative and interesting to me. Thanks DJS/Nieporent/Howie/et al for your insights.
   72. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 27, 2019 at 01:18 PM (#5874790)
Side note: Jury duty gets a bad rap.

I've always wanted to do jury duty but I've never been called. I've been a registered voter since I turned 18.

Some day.

   73. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: August 27, 2019 at 01:28 PM (#5874796)
This thread is super informative and interesting to me. Thanks DJS/Nieporent/Howie/et al for your insights.
Seconded.

I used to do some freelance profile writing, mostly for my alma mater, which were typically based on an in-person interview of an hour or so plus some research. I always recorded them, because I wanted to be fully present for the back-and-forth Q&A and knew I wouldn't remember quotes well enough. (It was hard enough later for shorter phone discussions for trade organization news articles.) Kicking myself for not thinking of Howie's tip about noting the time of key moments.
   74. Hysterical & Useless Posted: August 27, 2019 at 01:59 PM (#5874811)
I've always wanted to do jury duty but I've never been called.

Move to Brooklyn. Everybody gets called regularly. In most instances, you spend one or two days waiting to get selected for a possible spot and then dismissed. I was actually chosen for a civil jury once, but the case settled over the weekend and we were all dismissed 1st thing Monday morning. Most recently (last May) was part of a group chosen to go through voir dire (again for a civil case). Spent all afternoon Monday and all morning Tuesday in the room but was never addressed by any of the lawyers. They took the first 6 people they questioned, which surprised the heck out of the rest of us. This one girl seemed to be doing her damndest to get them to dismiss her, telling them that if she didn't like the judge's instructions she'd just go with her gut.

Restrictions on note-taking by jurors seem to me to be both not at all anachronistic and perfectly sensible. As Fernigal noted, the fact of his having notes gave him enormous influence, but what if his notes had been (whether intentionally or unintentionally) misleading? Jurors are supposed to consider only what is presented at trial (that's why you're not supposed to look at newspapers or TV news) and an individual juror's perhaps biased written recollections are most definitely not part of the record of the trial but will likely be given undue weight by the other jurors.

I have never heard that trial transcripts may be "unavailable for weeks" and would be grateful if any barristers could weigh in on that.
   75. Srul Itza Posted: August 27, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5874813)
reporters are not only allowed, but professionally obligated to, report (newsworthy) stuff that they learn. They work for the public, not for their sources


The idea that reporting is a "profession" is fairly new in the history of what we now call journalism. As everybody now has a soap box, what remains of "professionalism" is subject to question.

And reporters work for neither the public, nor their source. They work for the entity that issues their paycheck. If they forget that, they may not be getting that paycheck much longer.
   76. Srul Itza Posted: August 27, 2019 at 02:07 PM (#5874816)
We were discussing events with a very complicated timeline, presented over a long period, and frankly no one else had the faintest idea of what happened when and to whom.


Then the lawyers did not do their job very well. In a complicated case, it is the lawyer's job, in opening and again in closing, to provide a coherent story for the jury to follow.

Regarding note taking and transcripts: The jury can always ask to have something read back, in which case, in the old days, the court reporter could come in and read from their stenographic record. In some trials, lawyers would order "dailies", in which case you have different stenographers for morning and evening, and they would go back to their office and type up the transcripts. That is wholly unnecessary today. With today's technology, transcripts can be created almost immediately from the machine, and in some cases you can get it displayed on a screen in front of you, as the trial is going on. The only thing that may not show correctly is proper names, but the reporter can now generate a rough draft almost instantly, and a good draft in very short order.

The problem with taking notes is that you may be concentrating on taking the notes, and not on what the witness is saying and doing. When you are the judge of the facts and credibility, you are expected to keep an eye on the witness. If note taking is allowed, a good lawyer will make sure there is enough time between questions to allow the notes to be taken, and to emphasize what testimony is crucial.
   77. Howie Menckel Posted: August 27, 2019 at 02:37 PM (#5874821)
reporters work for neither the public, nor their source. They work for the entity that issues their paycheck. If they forget that, they may not be getting that paycheck much longer.

I can't speak for anyone else, but as far as I am concerned, I have always worked for the public. so far, so good.

I got called for federal jury duty in lower Manhattan when I was about age 23. they paid $30 a day plus expenses (a nice chunk of change back then). as I only had a part-time night job at the time, I would have preferred a lengthy trial!

one case is a possible violation of illegally purchasing a weapon after a previous conviction.

they get down to one last "voir dire" of lawyers choosing to excuse witnesses. I go up there to replace Juror Number 5. the defendant hears I worked for a newspaper - and panics. His lawyer says, "Please Excuse Juror Number Twelve." but that's not me.

the defendant panics, grabs his lawyer's ear, and there's a quick whispering session before the judge. "Watch this," I told the guy next to me. "I'm out."

and so I was. poor guy didn't know that even then, I was an independent - he bought into the stereotype.
:)

the other chance was a federal shipbuilding case that was going to take months. it sounded very boring, and with the time frame, people did backflips to try to escape. I was more than game, but I wasn't called into the final stage, alas.
   78. jmurph Posted: August 27, 2019 at 02:47 PM (#5874826)
I can't speak for anyone else, but as far as I am concerned, I have always worked for the public. so far, so good.

Perhaps "in the public interest" vs "for the public" might be a useful distinction.
   79. Greg Pope Posted: August 27, 2019 at 03:06 PM (#5874830)
Regarding note taking and transcripts

So if in general the jury doesn't take notes, and they're not given the transcripts... They just go back and make a decision based on what they happen to remember? That seems unreliable, especially if the trial takes more than a few days.
   80. Wayne Newton's pet monkey (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: August 27, 2019 at 03:11 PM (#5874833)
Memory tells me that I covered two criminal trials back in the early '90s in which fellow reporters were seated on the jury -- both, as it happens, in the court of the anti-note-taking judge I mentioned earlier. (I'm not doubting David when he says that most judges follow that approach, but I truly don't remember this guy's fellow jurists doing so.) Another jury in another court included a former deputy attorney general, which seems ... counterintuitive to me. And another panel included an FBI agent.

Happily, I was never called. I wasn't registered to vote for most of my time as a reporter (not sure about the rest of Arkansas, but at least at that time in Pulaski County the jury pool consisted of registered voters), & after the county clerk (a very nice lady) browbeat me into changing that I simply didn't ever get called the remaining few years I lived there.

As for Alabama, I have no idea. After nearly 17 years here I've been registered for only a year or so (just so I could cast a vote against child molester Roy Moore), but that may well not be a factor; some places included everybody with a driver's license, I believe.

I probably have too many teeth to be considered here, anyway.

Basically, I endured too damned many trials as a reporter (including 3 murder trials at once, I believe circa 1987 ... at least the courtrooms were all on the same floor of the courthouse) to ever even entertain the idea of sitting in a jury box unless pretty much bound & gagged.
   81. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2019 at 05:16 PM (#5874873)
When you are the judge of the facts and credibility, you are expected to keep an eye on the witness.
It's ridiculous how the legal profession clings to the myth that a juror's visual assessment of the "demeanor of the witness" can provide any reliable data whatsoever with respect to credibility.

It's but one example of a much bigger problem, as Zonk alludes to above.
   82. JL72 Posted: August 28, 2019 at 09:57 AM (#5875005)
It's ridiculous how the legal profession clings to the myth that a juror's visual assessment of the "demeanor of the witness" can provide any reliable data whatsoever with respect to credibility.


Some research indicates that 55% of information is communicated through nonverbal elements.

I don't think it is definitive, but to believe there is no such information to be gleaned seems equally ridiculous.
   83. flournoy Posted: August 28, 2019 at 11:01 AM (#5875020)
Some research indicates that 55% of information is communicated through nonverbal elements.

I don't think it is definitive, but to believe there is no such information to be gleaned seems equally ridiculous.


This is a good point, but I question how qualified the average juror is to accurately interpret that communication.
   84. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 28, 2019 at 11:02 AM (#5875023)
Some research indicates that 55% of information is communicated through nonverbal elements.

I don't think it is definitive, but to believe there is no such information to be gleaned seems equally ridiculous.
I'm sure that some information is communicated nonverbally. Thinking that a typical juror can reliably translate exactly what information is being communicated nonverbally by a stranger is the ridiculous part.
   85. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 28, 2019 at 11:04 AM (#5875024)
<nods head at flournoy to communicate offer of Coke>
   86. PreservedFish Posted: August 28, 2019 at 11:10 AM (#5875028)
I was on a 3-week long murder trial in Oakland that ended in a hung jury, which the judge and lawyers told us was extraordinarily rare. There were ups and downs, but overall I look back on the experience fondly. Now I'm hoping to get placed on a grand jury!
   87. manchestermets Posted: August 28, 2019 at 11:24 AM (#5875034)
In a complicated case, it is the lawyer's job, in opening and again in closing, to provide a coherent story for the jury to follow.


True, but it's also the jury's job to try to see through the spin the lawyers are putting on the evidence, and they can only do that by going back to the actual evidence.

When I've sat on juries in the UK (twice), we've been provided with plenty of paper to take notes on, and people do to varying degrees. Some transcribe everything the witnesses say, some (me) less so - I mostly made notes about demeanour, things that didn't add up to me, things that contradicted something another witness had said. When it came to deliberations, there were jurors who'd gone down the transcribing route, and had transcribed contradictory things, so...

If note taking is allowed, a good lawyer will make sure there is enough time between questions to allow the notes to be taken, and to emphasize what testimony is crucial.


In my experience, the judge has enforced that because he was transcribing the evidence for his own benefit.

Regarding people's ability to read body language, I would imagine that most people are not as good as that as they think they are. The trouble is, when two people are telling you contradictory stories that they literally swear are true and it's your job to describe who's telling the truth, what else do you have?
   88. Wayne Newton's pet monkey (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: August 28, 2019 at 11:33 AM (#5875037)
I was on a 3-week long murder trial in Oakland


I've expressed surprise before at how long trials stretch on in some jurisdictions. Longest criminal trial involving violent acts I covered in Little Rock might have lasted 3 days, I'm pretty sure. The last major proceeding I covered, the state attorney general's (&, till the case came to light, the presumptive heir to Bill Clinton as governor) trial on charges of theft by deception, involved dozens of witnesses & some pretty complex principles (I, for one, would've voted to acquit because of my perception of statutory inadequacy; the jury saw differently). Google tells me it lasted 9 days, which probably included at least a day for voir dire.
   89. majorflaw Posted: August 28, 2019 at 11:41 AM (#5875042)
“ Thinking that a typical juror can reliably translate exactly what information is being communicated nonverbally by a stranger is the ridiculous part.”

The only issue jurors are expected to decide based on the appearance of the witness while testifying is whether that witness is being truthful. That’s it. If we can’t trust jurors to decide who is telling the truth and who isn’t we can’t possibly trust them with complex issues such as DNA evidence and statistical probability. It’s just assumed that every person has some ability to determine truthfulness, without that the system blows up as we would need to qualify jurors based on ability*. After questioning—and crossing—hundreds of witnesses over the past >30 years I do consider non-verbal clues possibly relevant, as an addition to what the witness actually said.

*My Advanced Evidence prof made the argument that the system tends to underestimate the competence of jurors. Said that, rather than ridiculing them, we should recognize their ability as a group, using their various and varying abilities, to get to the truth. I raised my hand and offered, “But you’re talking about people who couldn’t get out of jury duty, Professor” earning me the obligatory laugh from the peanut gallery and her eternal enmity.
   90. PreservedFish Posted: August 28, 2019 at 11:59 AM (#5875046)
My Oakland case consisted of the following:

1 day where we got called in and told what the case was.
2 days of voir dire
5 days of evidence
1 day where a juror called in sick and the entire trial was suspended
A 10+ day break for the judge's vacation or something
3 more days of evidence
1 day of closing arguments
7 days of deliberations (!)
   91. Wayne Newton's pet monkey (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: August 28, 2019 at 12:05 PM (#5875047)
The judges I knew would no more have allowed deliberations to last for 7 days than they would've flapped their arms & flown to the moon. Nor would a trial be allowed to languish while a judge vacationed.

I've always suspected that judges in California spend about an hour, tops, in actual trial any given day; the rest of the time must be devoted to working on their tans or accepting blowjobs from lawyers or chatting with their agents or something.
   92. Traderdave Posted: August 28, 2019 at 12:26 PM (#5875051)
I've always suspected that judges in California spend about an hour, tops, in actual trial any given day; the rest of the time must be devoted to working on their tans or accepting blowjobs from lawyers or chatting with their agents or something.



Damn, I chose the wrong career.
   93. PreservedFish Posted: August 28, 2019 at 12:28 PM (#5875052)
There was certainly a lot of empty hours. The evidence could have been productively presented in 2-3 days rather than 8, if they were allowed to just go straight to the heart of the matter. The judge fell asleep at one point, as did several jurors. And several of those days ended very early in the day. "Oh, it's 1pm and this witness is done? Let's adjourn until tomorrow."

And the judge's vacation came in handy for me, as I was able to sneak a serious work trip in between court dates.

But the 7 days of deliberations? Overall I was impressed with the judge's and lawyers' respect for us as a group, and their respect for our autonomy. Didn't try and push us in any one direction. And also impressed with the seriousness with which my fellow jurors considered the task. We agitated for a hung jury on day 4 or something like that, and he told us to just keep trying. After that we were kind of just killing time.
   94. JL72 Posted: August 28, 2019 at 12:38 PM (#5875053)
Thinking that a typical juror can reliably translate exactly what information is being communicated nonverbally by a stranger is the ridiculous part.


You, and everyone of us, does it every day in every in-face communication we have. I doubt that anyone is perfect at it, but we as people generally do a decent job at it, including with strangers. So why it would be ridiculous for a juror to do so seems without any basis.
   95. PreservedFish Posted: August 28, 2019 at 01:06 PM (#5875060)
We had one witness that was strident and confident. Difficult to read her body language with regard to her veracity. The deceased's sister. Very important witness.

We had one witness that was incredibly uncomfortable. He was in jail himself, and was sort-of tentatively fingering the defendant for the crime. It appeared that he was nervous about being labeled a snitch in jail. But also stood to improve his situation if he snitched. It was impossible for me to read his body language with regard to his veracity. The deceased's buddy. Very important witness.

We had one witness that made a mockery of the proceedings. She derided the prosecutor. Her nonverbal communication was as subtle as a hydrogen bomb. Rolling her eyes, scoffing. Very easy to discount every word she said. They also had video of her months earlier, giving what appeared to be an earnest account, where she said entirely different things in entirely different ways. Only one (crazy) juror thought that her in-court testimony was worth bothering with in the slightest. She was only witness to the eventual location of the purported getaway vehicle. Relatively unimportant.

All of these people were from a very different culture than I am from. Sometimes even their words were difficult to interpret. I remember one witness used the phrase "it's been a minute" to describe how long it had been since he had last seen the defendant. It was the first time I'd heard it, although I've heard it a lot in the years since. Did that mean it had been a long time, or a short time?

Sitting on stage in a courtroom witness box is a highly charged and highly unusual situation. The interpretation of nonverbal communication must be extremely subject to bias. Jurors and witnesses can have nothing in common at all. Witnesses can have immense vested interest in the outcome of the case. Which can be life or death. In most cases, I'd be very very skeptical of a juror's interpretations of nonverbal cues as a witness.

This isn't like judging if your barista was being rude by how she handed you your latte.
   96. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: August 28, 2019 at 01:38 PM (#5875073)
The case I took notes in was a wrongful death suit. It was clear that there had been several other suits involving the same death, and several of the witnesses seemed to be repeating verbatim what they had said in earlier cases. Two witnesses had been deposed at some earlier point, and the transcripts were read aloud by the plaintiff's lawyer's lackey. I'd agree that in general it would've been important to pay attention to nonverbal cues, but in this case everything was incredibly bloodless and fake-seeming. The people attempting to be lively were clearly acting, and it was very hard to tell what, if anything, any of them actually thought about things.

I was more generally really surprised by the incompetence of most everyone involved in the case, save for the judge. That goes for both lawyers, several of my fellow jurors, and the people running the courthouse. It was a low-rent case in which everyone, including the deceased, had ###### up badly, but still I was shocked by the shoddiness of everything, especially compared to the two juries for criminal trials that I've served on.
   97. Howie Menckel Posted: August 28, 2019 at 01:44 PM (#5875077)
I had the 18-week Jayson Williams manslaughter trial in 2004. what's interesting is that if a trial goes on long enough, eventually someone's grandmother dies, someone's kid is ill, and so on. that adds and adds to the endless toll.

the verdict was all over the place. I knew the defendant and five of the 11 who were present for the incident, as well as the mansion where the incident occurred. The prosecution completely botched its theory of the crime (as did CourtTV's Nancy Grace). The defense - well, let's just say they sure seemed to take some liberties with accuracy.

but it wasn't my place to intervene, without literal proof of anything. meanwhile, there was no specific state law that best addressed what happened. so it never was going to end perfectly.
   98. Nasty Nate Posted: August 28, 2019 at 01:54 PM (#5875079)
I remember one witness used the phrase "it's been a minute" to describe how long it had been since he had last seen the defendant. It was the first time I'd heard it, although I've heard it a lot in the years since. Did that mean it had been a long time, or a short time?
Ha! I hate the way that phrase is used.
   99. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 28, 2019 at 02:00 PM (#5875081)
"It's been a minute" generally refers to at least a fairly long time.
   100. PreservedFish Posted: August 28, 2019 at 02:05 PM (#5875083)
That was my guess at the time, and I later learned that I was right. But it wasn't immediately obvious to me, and I don't know if the other jurors figured it out.
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