Some of our readers have raised questions about how we handled the reporting of disorderly conduct charges filed against Erica Richardson, a candidate for New London City Council.
Disorderly conduct is a Class C misdemeanor, which we do not print in our police logs. So editors were faced with this question: Do we treat Richardson the same as everyone else and not print the charges, or do we hold her to a different standard because she is running for public office?
Because we do not report on disorderly conduct charges we weren’t immediately aware that Richardson had been charged. We first became aware of the charge through anonymous calls to the newsroom. (We did not, however, receive any calls from the candidate herself or other Democrats asking to keep the charge out of the paper.)
After much discussion, we decided that because Richardson was a candidate for public office it was our duty to let voters know that she had been charged.
When Richardson came to The Day for her endorsement interview, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere asked her about the charge and she talked on the record about it. Again, she did not lobby to keep it out of the paper.
At this point, the incident that had led to her being charged was days old and her court appearance just days away. We decided at the point to wait until Richardson’s court appearance to report on it, regardless of what action the court took. On Monday, the charges were dismissed. After court reporter Karen Florin interviewed Richardson on the phone, we immediately posted an article on theday.com and then in Tuesday’s edition of The Day.
Some readers also questioned why we had published charges against four Connecticut College students but not Richardson, saying incorrectly that the charges were the same. The students were charged with breach of peace, which is a Class B misdemeanor. We publish the names of everyone charged with breach of peace. Richardson was charged with disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor, which we do not usually publish. In this case we made an exception because it was in the public’s interest to do so.