I helped out one of my colleagues earlier this week and covered a criminal sentencing.
It was an interesting change of pace, and when I entered the courtroom, I was confronted with a dilemma: Where should I sit?
Much like churches at a wedding, courtrooms are divided. Instead of the groom’s side and the bride’s side, there’s the prosecutor’s side and the defendant’s side. (Or in a civil trial, the plaintiff’s side and the defendant’s side.)
But what about the neutral parties? Where do they sit?
This case involved a woman who was shot in the head and survived. Her boyfriend was being sentenced. He likely wasn’t the triggerman, but he was found guilty of attempted murder anyway after his DNA was found on a homemade silencer associated with the shooting.
I didn’t want to side on either side of the room, lest it looked like I was picking sides. If I sat on the victim/prosecutor side, would the defendant’s family and lawyers want to talk with me? If I sat on the defendant’s sides, would the victim’s family think I was sympathetic with them?
Ultimately, I didn’t have many choices in the small courtroom. After the victim’s family and defendant’s family filed in, it looked like there was a little more room on the victim/prosecutor side. I slipped in the last row, next to the aisle.
Fellow reporters, where do you sit in courtrooms? Am I overthinking this?