Progress coaxes hearing in bomb case….but little else

The Daily Progress is reporting that Albemarle County Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. has ordered a hearing to discuss the possibility of opening the case of one of the teens convicted of plotting to blow up two Albemarle County high schools.

Last week, Progress attorney Roman Lifson argued that the teen’s case was "improperly closed, citing a lack of notice or adequate finding in Circuit Court" and that a "presumption of openness" already exists. In a letter the Progress received yesterday, Peatross agreed to schedule the hearing, saying, "The Court notes that circumstances in the case pending since April 27, 2006 have changed and the Court wishes to review the decision to keep the proceedings closed." The story goes on to say the Progress is "seeking access to the files and transcripts of previous hearings."

Ironically, this story about seeking details in the case offers precious few. While continuing its questionable habit of naming the juveniles in the case (the paper has also plastered photos of two of the teenagers on its front page), the Progress story trumpets its own efforts to open the case without providing any new details, or even some known facts. For example, it does not mention the fact that at least three of the teens were released. Which is perhaps the oddest known fact. After all, if these kids were so dangerous, why were they allowed to go home?

The paper also continues the habit of pretending there are no other media in town. No mention of Hook editor Hawes Spencer’s attempt to convince Peatross to open the cases back in June, during which Peatross read the state statute concerning juvenile appeals and its exceptions, and concluded, "Nothing in this case would trigger the file being opened."

So what "circumstances" changed to change Peatross’ mind? Was it simply the persuasive powers of the Progress lawyer? Or might it have been the Hook’s recent interview with the parents of the one of the convicted teens, in which a series of shocking details were revealed? Or maybe it was the excerpts in the story from the trial transcipt obtained by the Hook?

One thing’s for sure, you won’t read about it in the Progress.

11 comments

It's nice to see the Progress actually "doing" something. It would be nicer to see them cover the Virgil Goode MZM scandal. The other day Bob Gibson actually wrote an article in which he claimed that the recent polling that shows Goode in the lead means the voters don't care about the scandal. The fact is, media such as the Progress aren't even covering this scandal. The reasons for that will be clear in about five weeks when they endorse Virgil Goode. So the Progress is making noise about a local juvenile trial. Get back to me when they make noise about something that really matters.

I don't think I've ever seen such bitterness or sour grapes directed at one media outlet from another in this town. Not to sound too much like a 13 year old, but maybe you should like, chill out, Hook.

County officials interagating teenagers without a lawyer of their parents present, arresting one in school, locking them up for three months with little or no real evidence, and intimidating both the press and the parents with a false "gag" order isn't "something that really matters?" Hmmmm....and why would the Hook be "bitter" and how is this "sour grapes?" Aren't they simply pointing out that the DP isn't givings its readers and the community the whole story because they refuse to mention information obtained by other media as a matter of policy? Chill out? Dude, you need to tune in.

I am thankful to see the papers fighting to bring more light to this terrible incident. This community cannot afford to stand by and allow these public officials to sweep things under the rug. I have three children attending the county schools and, quiet frankly, I have more concern over protecting my children from these county officials that crushed these children than from the actions of other students.

Having recently moved last year from Alabama, this event has stirred memories of how local governments there act when they want to put on a show for the community. They quickly act as judge, juror and executioner and then deny access to the records that would hold them accountable. In many ways it is like a modern day lynching. We are not nearly as free from tyranny as most people would believe.

I am hoping that these officials are not ââ?¬Å?untouchable” from the standpoint of loosing elections or from pressure being brought from another political party. I hope that Albemarle County in not like so many county governments from my native state of Alabama, all from the same political party and above scrutiny in the political process.

Is there anything I could do as a citizen of this community to help this family? Any comments or ideas would be appreciated.

Whoa, Hook! Who shit in your cornflakes this am? This is about the pissiest post I've seen yet, and for this blog thats saying a lot. Just because you don't get a pat on the back in today's article, doesn't mean the Progress has a "habit of pretending there are no other media in town."
From last week's article:
"In June, Hawes Spencer, the publisher and editor of the alternative weekly newspaper The Hook, represented himself in an unsuccessful bid to have the files open."
From my reading, the article is basically a little housekeeping, letting people know how legal proceedings to find out WTF is going on are going. Did the judge send the letter to Hawes Spencer? If not, it doesn't sound like the Hook's story had anything to do with his decision. I can't wait until the next hearing. Hook, you better pray the judge cites your story as the reason circumstances have changed, or else this posting will be seen for what it really is...snippy and petty. I thought you were better than this!
Only through continued media pressure can we learn what happened. You should be holding your fire for the powers that be, not your fellow media. Not a shining moment in journalism, this posting.

Watch out, or The Hook will take its ball and go home.

It seems like the entire staff is posting on readthehook.com/blog today.

Everybody in town who admires the "journalism" found in the Regress raise your hands.

They have predictable editorial stances that are well outside the community norm, a sports columnist who is deeeeeeeeeeeeeply in the pocket of the only sports entity in town that matters, and too often when you print a letter from a reader disagreeing with your stands or reportage, you manage to find the one or two letters that are the most unintelligent. And their web site truly sucks.

That paper is a waste of ink and money, and that fact is the single reason why publications such as C-Ville and The Hook are so well-read, not to mention well-written.

And no, I don't work for either of those papers. I do, however, read them.

The Progress does seem to hide behind it's corporate facade. You can never tell if they just want to sell newspapers or if they have a true journalistic interest in providing the community with all the info. The Hook seems to have more of a desire to provide information, however they will dog an issue to death in some occaisions. (The Lethal Wrecker scenerio pops to mind. The wrecker company did have alot of wrong doing going on, but The Hook made sure that they put every negative item in print every week.) For my money though, The Hook generally provides a more informative article and asks the questions I am usually thinking.

it's so stupid that the corporate m*********** ***** **** at the daily *********** refuse to give glory where glory is due. WTF. they think they're SOOOO COOOL. BUT THEYRE NOT EVEN OMG HAVE YOU SEEN THEIR OFFICE IT IS SO UGLY! AND WHO LIVES ON RIO ANYMORE???? NUTHING HAPPENS BYOND THE DT MALL. AM I RIGHT, AM I RIGHT??

The Lethal Wrecker episode is merely another installemnt in the well-known but often-forgotten concept that you don't pick a fight with somebody who buys ink by the barrel.

fyi... the editorial page at the progress and the news pages are totally separate. so any gripes someone may have with the conservative-leaning "opinion" page shouldn't translate into feelings about the news pages. that's true with just about any paper (i used to work at one, and that misunderstanding was one of the most frustrating things to overcome).

look around -- the progress is the only media in town that covers just about everything of significance that's happening in this area (with a reporter shortage at that)... the hook and cville provide an important role in that they can take a story and explore it with an in-depth deep article. which i think is awesome. but the reporters at the progress hit all the meetings, all the events, etc., which is more than any of our pathetic tv stations do, and more than we'd really want our weeklies to do, in light of the fact that they are, well, weeklies. WINA is pretty great,too, but if i wanted to know what was going on with local government and schools and stuff, i'd pick the DP first.