The Boone County Courthouse is actually a rather lovely place at 8 a.m. I was there to fetch a probable cause statement for one Michael Christian Mikkelsen, sex offender, who’s plea hearing I attended yesterday. In the mid-afternoon rush of hearings, trials and arraignments, the courthouse is so crowded and busy that you fail to appreciate the people who work there and even the building itself. When you take a step back (aka arrive at 8 a.m.), you can realize how lovely the Boone County Courthouse is. And how lovely the people who work there are.
Before they get fed up with the day’s load of accused, and guilty, criminals, as well as the host of other people who frequent the courthouse on a day-to-day basis, the staff at the courthouse is almost absurdly pleasant. The bailiffs working security at the entrance greet you warmly and make jokes (that are actually really funny). The people working at the criminal records department seem happy that you stopped by.
Maybe I caught everybody on a good day. Or maybe I just hadn’t realized how kind people were on my last trip to the courthouse. It doesn’t make much of a difference. The things I remembered while I was there is what is important about this little escapade: As a journalist, I see myself developing a tendency to look at people as sources. But they are, first and foremost, people. They have good days and bad days. They get annoyed. They don’t want to be bombarded with constant phone calls and emails. They can be wonderful friends and assets, or they can make me miserable. And as essential as they are to my job, I have to respect them. I have to remember they are people to be respected, not just sources to be used and discarded.