Saturday, May 5, 2007

A1: "Death penalty trial is on track"

The death penalty can always be expected to cause a certain amount of breathless drama, and I wonder whether this was a factor in Mirsada Buric's court-beat story. The coverage is fine, I just tripped over the lead and fell flat on my face.

"The David Aggas trial scheduled for summer appears on track, unless the state settles his death penalty case stemming from ...."

On first read I took this to mean that if the state settles a death-penalty case, a trial of the same person on a different matter will not go forward -- which makes no sense. In this situation the writer's (or editor's) knowledge of what s/he means to say allows ambiguity to slip in. If I read it with extra emphasis on "settles," I can hear the intended meaning. The editor could have cleared this up quite simply:
"The death-penalty trial of David Aggas appears on track for summer unless the state settles his case, which stems from ...."