Letter: ‘Fairness in journalism’

Vancouver resident Audrey Stewart shares her thoughts on the media coverage of Clark County District Court Judge Darvin Zimmerman

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com

Audrey Stewart
Audrey Stewart

I was distressed to read about Judge Zimmerman in the paper this week. It was shocking to see how his passing remarks to a colleague in an empty courtroom were caught in a video recording, without his knowledge, and then broadcast on film and in print, publicly, out of context and in a very harsh and unfavorable light.

I saw the slant immediately. And it didn’t align with who I know the man to be. Someone who is kind, thoughtful and wise. A mentor and a friend to so many. Someone who goes out of his way to help those less fortunate. Someone who has worked with minorities and veterans selflessly and tirelessly over many years. He has worked so hard to make so many people’s lives better and to speak up for those who are not always able to speak for themselves. 

Victims, the incarcerated, impoverished people, alcoholics and drug addicts. The list goes on and on. He has given so much to so many, often with nothing in return. And just like that, a moment in private, caught on a hot mic, and a flash of blinding light, causes a man’s entire career to possibly go up in flames. The words were unfortunate. Perhaps if he had not used the descriptive term “black“ the perception might have been different. If he had said instead “that kid that was shot in Hazel Dell.“ Would it not have landed unfavorably? 

My grandmother told me years ago, be careful, the walls have ears. I have sometimes been embarrassed realizing a quiet conversation told in confidence was accidentally overheard by someone it was not intended for. It can happen to any of us. 

So how do we talk about things that are difficult in the workplace? Should we not discuss them at all? A judge is supposed to be unbiased, open minded, measured, and beyond reproach. On the bench, of course. But in every situation, at all times? Are they supposed to be superhuman? Even a judge is allowed to have opinions as long as he does not exercise those opinions in the course of determining the law, and measuring justice. 

Some have said that Judge Zimmerman was not sorry for what he said, only sorry that he got caught. I don’t find this to be true at all. The statement is repugnant. I know how he treats his neighbors, his friends, and how he goes out of his way to help people get a leg up when they have been knocked down. I promise you this man does not care one iota what color your skin is, what your background is, how much money you have or what has happened to knock you down. What he cares about is helping people get back up. Shouldn’t we grant him the grace to do the same?

Audrey Stewart
Vancouver

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