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An Imperfect 10
The mo-rons at Channel 10 are at it again. In the wake of last week's New Times story about the Avondale quadruplets, Channel 10 rushed onto the air with breathless reports of a criminal case in jeopardy.

New Times' story was based on the Avondale police department's sealed investigative report into the horrendous injuries sustained by the four infants. Media outlets in the Valley have been transfixed on the quads since before their January 9 birth, so they've all been awaiting developments in this heartbreaking case.

But Channel 10's report focused not on the news contained in the report but on the dubious supposition (advanced by the dubious Avondale Police Department) that New Times' disclosure might help get the quads' parents (named in the report as chief suspects in the case) off scot-free.

During its 9 p.m. newscast on September 23, KSAZ's Stephanie Angelo told how the report had been leaked to a "Valley newspaper" and that "investigators say someone . . . at Superior Court may be to blame for Xeroxing off the top secret information" and leaking it to this rag. Avondale police sergeant Mark Lucas whined on camera that the disclosure "will definitely give the defense a chance to build a defense."

Amen, policeman! If there's one thing we Americans don't cotton to, it's giving criminal defendants a chance to build a defense.

Knowing that Channel 10 would repeat its bogus story during its 10 p.m. newscast, an editor for this rag phoned that pulsating broadcast news center and spoke with executive producer Rod Haberer. When the editor asked why New Times had not been asked to repond to allegations that its story had endangered a criminal case, Haberer said, "That was a mistake." He also admitted that the station had been remiss in not getting a response from the alleged rogue Xeroxers at Superior Court.

He said it wasn't necessary to be so precise as to report how news of the police report had been disclosed, but because the camera had panned across the pages of New Times, everyone in the Valley would know exactly which "Valley newspaper" had obtained the police report. Then Haberer, a human contradiction, went on to explain that Angelo had not cited the source of the story because Channel 10 did not want to "implicate" New Times but that despite the possibility of being implicated, Channel 10 was in no way suggesting that New Times had done something wrong in printing the story. (Based on its report, the Flash must assume that if Channel 10 had gotten the "top secret" report, it wouldn't have told its viewers about it.)

After exhibiting ignorance of basic facts contained in New Times' piece, Haberer conceded that neither he nor Angelo had bothered to read the New Times story before airing the report. Haberer explained (and the Flash is not making this up), "It's hard to read a story that long."

Asked to include a response from New Times during the station's 10 p.m. newscast, Haberer initially said that as executive producer, he didn't have the authority to get it into the script. Finally, he relented.

But in her 10 p.m. synopsis, reporter Angelo offered some new and twisted justification for the premise of her report. In attempting to explain exactly how the investigation had been compromised, Angelo said, "Typically, their [quads' parents] defense lawyers would only have a list of police witnesses but would have to wait until the actual trial to hear that witness testimony. Well, now, because of this leaked report, police say lawyers will have a really good idea what to prepare for."

A former prosecutor now in private practice erupted in gales of laughter when read this statement. "That demonstrates such a fundamental misunderstanding of the trial-preparation process in a criminal case works," the barrister says. "I'm surprised that such ignorance could be found in a network affiliate newsroom in a major American city."

In fact, while Angelo was assuring viewers that the leaked report had assured the demise of any criminal case, the attorney for the quads' parents already had a copy of the police report in question. Furthermore, if any charges are filed, defense attorneys get an opportunity to interview police about their investigation. And if the cops give testimony at trial that contradicts what they say during pretrial discovery, any competent defense lawyer will fold, spindle and mutilate them on the stand. Given Avondale's slipshod handling of the quads' probe, that possibility does not seem so remote.

The greatest legitimate concern law enforcement would have about publication of the police report would be if the quads' parents decided to skip town. Yet Angelo apparently saw no irony in reporting, near the end of an eons-long (by broadcast standards) report on the supposed unraveling of the criminal case: "Avondale police say we can most likely expect [the quads' parents] to face criminal charges in the coming days."

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