A tale of courthouse intrigue

I solved a very strange mystery recently, but intrigue remains.

The other day, I captioned a photo that we published with an article on Daniel Dewitt’s postponed trial in print. It read, “At the court proceedings, which took place at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse, the trial was delayed for mental health assessments.” I took the information from the lede, name-checked the location — no problem, right?

I didn’t think so, until I looked at the newspaper the next day:

As you can see from the photo, the courthouse is clearly labeled “Wiley M. Manuel.” What?!

So then I did some research, a.k.a. looking things up on Google. According to the Alameda County Superior Court website, it’s definitely called the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse. Further research revealed that the dude after whom the courthouse is named has a Wikipedia page that says his middle initial is, indeed, a “W.”

When I shared my newfound knowledge (and utter confusion) with my fellow editors, they suggested that perhaps the person tasked with installing those letters accidentally put that one upside down. But if you look carefully at the photo, the outside lines of the “M” are straight, whereas those of the “W” are angled. What?!

So I have two questions for the Alameda County Superior Court: 1) Has nobody who works there actually ever noticed this and brought it up? and 2) Are they looking to perhaps hire a copy editor to proofread all their signs? Heck, if there are other errors as obvious as this one, I’d be willing to do it for free.

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