When I was working as a newspaper reporter I did some court reporting and found it terrifying, intriguing and exhilarating. I wished I could have done more and honestly, if I could spend my days reporting on court matters I would be thrilled.
This is why I found the memoir The Court Reporter (Harper Collins) by Australian journalist Jamelle Wells such a superb read.
Court reporter Jamelle has covered some of Australia’s highest profile cases. The book opens with the awful case of Robert Xie who murdered five of his wife’s family – Min Lin; his wife, Yun Lin, their children Henry and Terry and Yun Lin’s sister, Irene Lin. Brenda Lin, 15 was the sole survivor. The family were bludgeoned to death as they slept.
It’s not only the high profile cases (Keli Lane, the Independent Commission into Corruption, The Skaef Brothers gang rape case) that have impacted Jamelle but the day-to-day dramas that unfold each day in the courts.
In an interview with her employer, the ABC, about her book, Jamelle said “I was immediately drawn to the intensity and theatre of a court environment…”.
Jamelle‘s book combines the professional and the personal and gives us the inside track of what goes on in the courts as well as the process of how she works and the day-to-day challenges of being a reporter.
She even writes about court watchers – people who attend court to watch the drama unfold, whether it’s a high profile case or not, as well as her own day in court. Jamelle had a stalker, a man who started as what she though was a harmless pest but ended up becoming quite threatening and was once found by another resident of her apartment block swinging around two samurai swords!
Another case some readers may not know about (but others will because it was high profile for several years) is the Gordon Wood trial. Wood was charged with the murder of his girlfriend Caroline Byrne, who was found dead in 1995 at the bottom of Sydney’s The Gap. Wood was found guilty of Caroline’s murder in 2008 and then acquitted on appeal in 2012. Jamelle said this case showed her that the public has an insasible interest in murder cases and she’d often be asked about aspects of it by interested people.
I really enjoyed this book. You’ll definitely find yourself turning the pages quickly.