Reporter's Notebook: Anthony Carlo

News 12's Anthony Carlo offers a behind-the-scenes perspective on the reporting process of his latest story.

News 12 Staff

Jan 7, 2021, 9:59 PM

Updated 1,229 days ago

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Reporter's Notebook: Anthony Carlo
News 12's Anthony Carlo offers a behind-the-scenes perspective on the reporting process of his latest story.  Follow him on Twitter here.
Often in this business, we interview the most vulnerable. Specifically covering The Bronx, I have done countless interviews with immigrants, the underprivileged, and inner-city communities. It is not always that I get to sit down with someone who has a lot of power but appears to be vulnerable to the people who seemingly have more power. 
That's what I found when I sat down with Bronx Supreme Court Justice, Fernando Tapia. This man has a very decorated career as a judge, serving for 18 years. However, he is not ready to leave yet. He is fighting to stay. The state has other ideas because of the financial situation the pandemic has put it in. This story has been one of the most difficult I have had to cover in my career, simply because I tried to show what kind of an impact the state's decision to execute a mass termination of judges could have on the people, while also staying true to the journalistic value of telling both sides of the story fairly. 
In the piece, you'll find the Office of Court Administration takes a strong stance on why the State was forced to make the cuts. My email exchange with OCA's press person went on for weeks. It took some time to get the information I needed, but I must say, at the end of the day, they were as direct as you could possibly want a government entity to be. In the piece, you will find an emotionally charged interview with Justice Tapia who explains why he feels his absence, and the absence of 45 other Justices, will have a very bad effect on the people who rely on the court system. 
In the piece, you will find an interview with Carl Berkley, a community activist running for office, who tries to put into perspective what this decision means for the community. His biggest argument is that elected judges benefit the community more than appointed judges do. He is also very forward thinking, planning "judge debates" in his community in the future so the people can get more involved in who is sitting on the bench. 
In this piece, you also hear from Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who was kind enough to do two interviews with me after I realized I needed him on the record answering a question I failed to ask him the first time around. He provided great backbone in this story as far as the facts of the judicial system and how it operates. He was very knowledgeable on the matter as chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. 
One of the final interviews I wound up getting for this story -- a sit down with a man who has not seen his daughter for a year because of the lethargy of the court system, only made worse by the pandemic. If there is any way to understand how the court system's efficiency has an impact on the people, it is by listening to Reshad Aslami. 
What you will not see in this piece is the process of gathering the background information on this story to help me report what is most important for the public to understand. There were many nights, after my shift, I spent time on the phone with either Justice Tapia or another high-ranking Appellate Judge, talking over the latest update in the developing court matter. 
This story demanded constant attention even after I was "clocked out." But at the end of the day, I have to believe it was worth the time and effort to tell what I believe is an important story. It is important for the understanding of how the pandemic has caused a financial hemorrhaging to this State and who must lose their job over that. It is even more important for the understanding of how one decision can potentially derail the pursuit of justice for thousands of people.
I will continue following this story even after it initially airs.  The court has initially sided with the judges as they presented their lawsuit in Suffolk County Court. OCA has appealed that decision and is being heard in the Appellate Division. 
If the Appellate Division upholds the decision in favor of the judges, OCA has essentially one more shot in the Court of Appeals, also known as the court of last resort. If the Appellate Division overturns the initial decision in favor of the judges, the judges will likely appeal in the Court of Appeals. To be continued.


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