Friday, June 9, 2006

Conflict of interest at the Herald-Times?

David Grubb has been convicted of hitting a five year old boy, but his case was almost declared a mistrial before it started because of comments a juror made about him. Personally, I think a new jury should have been selected because the juror obviously had some issues with Grubb and probably prejudiced the other five.

That said, I have real questions about whether Kurt Van der Dussen should be covering the case. Grubb threatened to kill Van der Dussen last fall at a County Commissioners meeting, saying that Van der Dussen "signed his own death warrant" by reporting that Grubb had hit the boy. (The threat was broadcast on CATS if anyone wants to get a tape of the meeting.)

Can Van der Dussen be objective in reporting the facts, given that Grubb threatened his life? If an eccentric character such as Grubb threatened to kill me on live TV at a public meeting, I don't think I could give him a fair shake in a news article. I have no problem with KVD editorializing about the case, but I think he should be kept away from reporting on it. The H-T should have assigned someone who does not have such a vivid history with Grubb to cover his court case.

Grubb could get between 18 months and three years for the assault, and possibly more given his alleged statement in the courtroom that he would like to cut the prosecutor's throat. I hope this case serves as a means to get Mr. Grubb the help he needs, because his behavior at public meetings over the years (including threatening violence against the City Council, among other things) indicates someone who is mentally unbalanced. For his own sake and for the safety of those around him, the root problem needs to be addressed and more time in jail will not solve it.