Let’s talk about media coverage. I am not going to lie I was completely on a WITCH HUNT, but this time I decided that before I was going to run my mouth I should try to research the media in regards to juvenile criminal court cases. I apologize for those who have already read my post/posts regarding the 8/2 hearing, but I need to back up a tiny bit to get to a good starting point.
On 7/14/2017 we were brought into the Weber County Attorney’s office and told there had been a small change to the original terms of the agreement (this small change didn’t seem too small to me, but what do I know?). The plea agreement was originally going to be that Marilee Gardner would plead guilty to two counts of attempted murder, one to be served in a juvenile detention facility until she turns 21, and the second to be served in the Utah State prison once she turns 21. The unexpected change was due to the 2nd district Juvenile Court Judge not signing off on the first part of the agreement.
And why wouldn’t she? Well because it had never been seen in her court. Marilee’s charges had been direct filed into the adult system due to the seriousness of the crime. We were informed that the adult charges would now need to be dropped and refiled in the juvenile court system. They explained to us (or attempted to explain) that it was really only paperwork…. NO actual changes to the agreement.
Previous to this meeting there had been an 8/2 court date scheduled. Originally that date was supposed to be the day the plea was to be presented to the judge and also when Marilee would state that she was in agreement with it. At this July meeting we were told the 8/2 hearing would be canceled because they would not have enough time to get everything in place.
On 8/1 my daughter called me, she let me know that my step-dad had received a call from the advocate from the Weber County Attorney’s office and told there would in fact still be an 8/2 hearing (so yes less than one days notice), but that it was only happening so that they could get a new date to come back in front of the District Court Judge. I called hours later only to be told ” You were next on my list of calls”, when I did talk to our advocate I was told the same thing, it wasn’t an important hearing and that I probably didn’t even really need to go (Like that is her place to decide), this is what led up to me being fired by my advocate .
When I got to court that day (8/2) for obvious reasons I ended up being the only one present from Madi’s family, but yet there were several reporters there. This disturbed me because it seemed like a set up, not to mention it ended up being the most important court date to take place up until that point. That day the plea agreement was announced and Marilee also stated she intended on accepting that agreement.
Now flash forward to last Wednesday 10/25/2017, the sentencing date. The day prior to the sentencing I had decided to contact the media, and honestly I did partially do it to be a huge brat, you know paybacks.. two can play that game.. karma….I wanted to pay them back for the 8/2 nightmare. I also felt it was important for everyone following the story to see what happened. While looking for the judges calendar to confirm back to Marcos Ortiz I realized it was not posted, hmm odd I thought. My suspicious mind was going crazy, I double checked with my own “personal” newly assigned advocate and she answered back that it was scheduled for 9am the following morning. Marcos Ortiz and Scott Mckane both showed up that day, and I also found out they wouldn’t have known without me contacting them.
This led me to my little self-assigned research project. I wanted to find out how the media gets notified of court dates.
I started there and what I found out was that the Media has various search tools and can watch for certain cases that they have been working on or are interested in to come up. This seems to be based off of the court calendar. So there again I start looking for 2nd District Juvenile Court Calendar, and can’t find anything. Then I realized there is a huge difference this time…. this time we are dealing with the juvenile court system (DUH). So my research then changed direction and I started down the path to find out what rules and restrictions are put on the media in juvenile criminal court cases.
I know a lot of you might already know these things, but I did not. So this is my take on what I read, I am sure there are more details, but I got to the point where I understood and decided to write about it.
Criminal cases for defendants in the juvenile courts who are 14 years old and older are open to the public, this falls into the Utah right to know , but there are still issues that come up where defense attorneys can get the court hearings changed to private. Oh and here is another problem…juvenile court documents including court dates are not something the media or public has access to. So without a tip from someone involved with the case the media still has no way of knowing about court dates regardless of if it’s closed or open court. So potentially we as the public are kept in the dark and this could pose problems for various reasons.
Ok so here is my rant… Why are we as victims not made aware of these types of things? This is just another unfair advantage to the defendants and another example of how we as victims have no rights. Seriously though… none! Not to mention I don’t have the Layton or Syracuse Police reports from that night as of yet, and I want them..I m going to be an absolute monster if I can’t get the things I feel that I am entitled to. Tomorrow I will see what I need to do to get the various reports that were never provided to me. I guess I can feel better knowing that there was no clear deception that took place in regards to the media not being notified and also with the court date not being made public, but now I want to know why it is not required for the Weber County Attorney’s office to give us this important information. I am so sick of them not looking out for our best interest and deciding on their own what we do and don’t need to know. This is only one example, there are many, many more.