September 11, 2012

Editorial: Understanding justice system leads to safety

The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — After receiving numerous calls yesterday regarding the case of Carol Schmidt - the Verden woman accused of abusing her adopted children - we wanted to take a few inches and attempt to promote understanding over Oklahoma justice system.

We had multiple calls asking why the paper had not printed any stories regarding this case as Ms. Schmidt's trial date was scheduled for today.

We have not printed any story on the case because Ms. Schmidt did not go to trial today, she had a preliminary hearing.

This means that attorneys from both sides meet with the judge presiding over the case and discuss whether there is enough evidence to take someone to trial. Plea bargains can also be reached during this stage.

Grady County has actual trials four times a year. The next scheduled series of trial dates is in October. During this time, lawyers will plead their respective cases in front of a judge or jury. Chances are, if Ms. Schmidt does go to trial it won't be until December.

We are not trying to be offensive or insult our readers. We simply want to promote understanding so that Grady County citizens are better equipped to deal with these sort of questions and situations.

The basic process when it comes to the justice system is there is an arrest, an arraignment, a charge, a preliminary hearing and if it reaches it, a trial.

We do try to cover as many of these steps as possible, but some of the processes like the arraignment and the charge, are very similar. If we do write a story about one of these steps, it is likely that we were waiting for the charge, or we had a slow news day.

We want to be transparent in our coverage process, and we hope to inform our readers in all aspects of what we do.