Monday, October 13, 2014

Hide-and-seek with the judge in my story wasn’t necessary, to my surprise

Just when I thought I was going to have a hard time finding the former judge in my story which airs Monday night, I was surprised. He’s the back story to the interview.

My story: A Local 2 Investigation showed how the man acting as the City of Kenefick municipal judge, Eric Baumgart, is the former Liberty County Constable’s deputy who a jury convicted of writing a woman a fake traffic ticket in 2011. The prosecutor alleged Baumgart wrote the ticket in order to get a woman who he used to live with in trouble with the law. The incident cost Baumgart his deputy job.

I looked up some of Baumgart’s addresses in court paperwork and also left a message with someone who knew him. I hadn't heard back after a short while so I visited his house. Surprisingly, he answered the door and came outside to answer my questions.

He agreed to do a TV interview in his front yard, but in the middle of our conversation he asked if I would let him dress more appropriately and meet him for another interview at his attorney’s office in the morning.

It’s my general policy that if I have an unscheduled interview with the subject of a story and he or she asks that we sit down and do it in a more controlled environment, I agree. My goal is to give viewers the most complete and fair story possible. Catching someone in their front yard when they would prefer to be dressed up isn't always fair to my interview subject.

In this case, Baumgart kept his word and did the interview with me the next morning. His story didn’t change so there was no reason to use the front yard interview.

Regardless of circumstances, I’m pleasantly surprised when officials make interviewing them easy and don’t play hide-and-seek.