Free speech gets a week

October 20, 2009
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Most Americans should know they have the freedom of speech, thanks to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but they may not know there’s a week commemorating the right.


This week marks the annual National Freedom of Speech Week, always celebrated during the third week in October. It was created by the Media Institute, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. Based on the NFSW Web site, http://www.nfsw.org, it appears the Media Institute wants to keep reminding the public of their right to free speech and why it’s important we have that freedom. It encourages people to write a poem, keep a journal, or speak out at a rally.


Even the American Bar Association is promoting the week by creating a page on their Web site dedicated to the event. It has a mini-quiz with legal questions relating to the First Amendment.


We probably take for granted our freedom of speech in America because we can pretty much say whatever we want (with some restrictions, of course). We know we have the freedom of speech, but the general public probably doesn’t realize what that exactly means and what the limitations on it are.


There are various special days or weeks that recognize our rights as Americans, such as NFSW and Constitution Day. Do you think these are effective in educating the public on their rights found in the Constitution?

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  1. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

  4. "a ttention to detail is an asset for all lawyers." Well played, Indiana Lawyer. Well played.

  5. I have a appeals hearing for the renewal of my LPN licenses and I need an attorney, the ones I have spoke to so far want the money up front and I cant afford that. I was wondering if you could help me find one that takes payments or even a pro bono one. I live in Indiana just north of Indianapolis.

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