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The Preliminary Hearing

The eight students in Professor Toni Locy’s Journalism 280 course, Legal Reporting, put what they learned into practice last semester and created a website to show off their work.

The Preliminary Hearing showcases two separate investigations that the students undertook during the semester. As the description of the course says, “Courthouses make the best beats. Every day the curtain goes up and a drama is acted out. Criminal or civil, courts provide a window on what is important to the American people.”

One team of students — Brooke Sutherland, Tory Dickerson, Kelly Mae Ross and Stephen Peck — explored metamphetamine abuse and noted that “meth cases make up 50 percent of all drug arrests in the Rockbridge (County) area and 50 percent of all federal drug cases in southwest Virginia, according to law enforcement officials.” Through interviews with law enforcement and meth users, the students wove a fascinating story, which included both the written version and the video below:

Meanwhile, a second team — Anne Vesoulis, Ben Petitto, Findley Merritt and Wit Robertson — examined dating violence, focusing on the alleged murder of a University of Virginia woman’s lacrosse player last year by a member of the school’s men’s lacrosse team. Their report included interviews with officials at U.Va., the Charlottesville court system and staff members of W&L’s Student Affairs. You can read their story here or watch their video below:

In addition to Professor Locy, the students were assisted in their project by Michael Todd, manager of technical operations in the department of journalism and mass communications.