by Mark Hertzberg
Director of Photography
Racine Journal Times
It's who you know, not what you know. So goes the cliche that often applies to our profession. I was reminded of that maxim twice this past week. Once it worked in my favor, once it weighed heavily on my mind.
I got a call last Thursday night that Eric Judon had been cornered in a house on the city's south side. Judon had escaped from police custody three days earlier, somehow slipping his handcuffed hands in front of him when he was in a police patrol wagon, and then kicking his way past two officers in the "sally port" or garage area of the county jail.
I parked at the edge of the police perimeter, and starting running into the area, expecting to be stopped. One officer evidently wondered who I was, because I heard another tell him, "It's Mark, it's OK." When I got to the patrol wagon outside the house, I was told that Judon was already in custody, so there was no opportunity for a photo there.
I went to the jail, hoping that because the sally port door was reportedly still broken, a condition that had helped facilitate the escape, I'd get a picture of Judon being taken across the sidewalk to the jail entrance. We normally don't shoot these arrest photos because we have a strong cameras in court program, but this news story called for such a photo, in addition to the usual picture we'd take in court the next day. No such luck, I was told the wagon would be driving into the sally port.
There's no sign on the sally port which says to keep out, so I walked in. No one said anything, and I got a good picture, on deadline, of Judon being led to the jail. The police officer on the right was one whom he'd kicked while escaping.
I got my picture and then I saw a man in brown glowering and storming toward me from the jail. It was a sheriff's sergeant who told me that if I ever went in the sally port again, I'd be arrested. I assured him I understood his directive, happy that I already had my photo.
The "who you know" had worked in my favor
and enabled me to get my picture.
Today I had to photograph Sam D'Alie sitting
in a room in the jail, being charged with two other people with several
counts in connection with a drive-by shooting Saturday in which two men
were wounded. D'Alie hadn't made bond, so he was appearing via a video
link to the courtroom.
Sam was supposed to be at his first football practice at the University of Wisconsin-Plattville today, instead of sitting in the county jail. It was Sam's athletic fame that pushed us to cover a hearing we normally would not have assigned a photographer to.
I'm not a fan of the video conferencing system, which was introduced here in October for certain hearings. I prefer to be in the same courtroom as the defendant and his family. Under this system, the court commissioner, the prosecutor, and spectators, including family, are in the courtroom, while the defendant and his attorney are in a small room in the jail.
Today, though, I was relieved to not have to see his family. My wife and I were his parents' LaMaze instructors before he was born.
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