As it types this, Sidebar—along with about 30 reporters who cover various aspects of the legal system—is spending the first of two days at the University of South Carolina School of Law’s Media Law School.
Before lunch today, it learned several things:
1. Professor Susan Kuo is allergic to caffeine but somehow the most energetic facilitator ever.
2. At least one state solicitor doesn’t typically speak with the media because he believes that, to reporters, a “good story trumps a true story” and getting the story first trumps getting it right.
3. Panel members believe that trial lawyers, like journalists, should be good storytellers.
4. A former paratrooper who is on probation for a felony shouldn’t own a rifle. If he does, and he plans to claim that it belongs to his mother if his probation officer finds it, he shouldn’t store it with the barrel facing the floor.
5. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal, an engaging speaker, is also, according to law dean Robert Wilcox, the world’s No. 1 Gamecocks fan. (This fact worried Sidebar somewhat, since he noticed Toal searching for a parking spot while his University of Georgia-themed vehicle sat parked in the front row.)
During lunch, Sidebar learned that lawyers eat better than journalists.
After lunch Sidebar learned that:
1. U.S. District Senior Judge Joseph Anderson believes “My Cousin Vinny” is one of the best movies of all-time.
2. Some jurors are skillful artists who practice their craft when they should be paying attention.
3. There are many, many key moments in the civil process and trial.
So, we’re not even through day one here at USC law and Sidebar already feels like it has more insight into certain processes—and the minds of local jurists—and has benefitted from a refresher course on evidentiary issues.
It stands to reason, then, that there are roughly 30 journalists in the room who will leave here tomorrow a little wiser and more prepared to provide you with even better legal coverage.
And we will certainly have more than a few legal anecdotes and snippets of hilarity to share at our leisure.