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Inbox: Group advocates for court reporter to be used in pilot project

August 1, 2012
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Letters to the Editor

Dear editor,

The board of the Indiana Shorthand Reporters Association (ISRA) found the July 6, 2012, article, “Pilot project will introduce video transcript in 3 courts” regarding the Supreme Court’s video pilot project very informative, but also potentially troubling. It is our desire to address the issues raised by the Supreme Court and to urge the Supreme Court to take into consideration some important facts when making any potential changes to the method of capturing the official court record in the state of Indiana.

The claim has been made that a video transcript will provide attorneys with the ability to have records of proceedings at the end of each day of trial. A stenographic court reporter who is also a certified realtime reporter can provide this valuable service by providing either a paper or electronic transcript to the court and parties. A CRR can also stream a copy of the testimony, as it is happening, to the computers of the judge and attorneys, as well as any hard-of-hearing participants, giving them instant access to the record of proceedings. This process, called realtime, gives users the ability to highlight sections of the record to be used during cross-examination. A copy of a searchable written transcript is available for use by the parties at the end of any hearing or trial, providing attorneys and the court the ability to have a written transcript immediately, as opposed to being forced to watch and re-watch testimony to find the specific sections of interest. A realtime stream can also serve to ensure ADA compliance to judges, attorneys, jurors and litigants who require that service.

ISRA implores the Indiana Supreme Court to include a certified realtime reporter in this pilot project to truly test and compare the different methods of capturing the record and to conclusively demonstrate the effectiveness of different methods. Understanding that at this late date that may not be possible, in the alternative, ISRA respectfully requests that the utilization of a realtime reporter in the courts be thoughtfully studied and considered before any final decisions are made. Because a staff member would undoubtedly be used to provide a log of the video and the time stamps mentioned in the article, ISRA believes using a stenographic court reporter, particularly a CRR, would be more cost-effective and increase court efficiencies moving forward.

ISRA understands the budgetary difficulties that the state is going through. We see the need for decreased costs and increased efficiencies and believe that a stenographic court reporter will help in both regards. First, we believe there are numerous outright and hidden costs in implementing an audiovisual recording system like this throughout the state. Claiming that utilizing audiovisual recording will save money is, in a word, misleading. In order to specifically cite the audiovisual record, a time reference will need to be determined, tedious work that is done for a cost by either an attorney’s staff or is farmed out to a freelance court reporter. When responding to an appeal, an opposing party, not knowing if a transcript has been produced, will have to go through the same process. It is possible that two separate written transcripts will be produced and still no official written record will be available for citation.

The second goal of the pilot project is to address the inefficiencies of producing a transcript. Under the current rules, an appellate transcript must be filed within 90 days. Unlike most other states and the federal judicial system, Indiana does not have any requirement that an official court reporter be certified or even demonstrate a basic competency in capturing and preserving the record. Many of the records of proceedings are simply recorded by digital recording. To generate a transcript, the recording must then be tediously transcribed with a QWERTY keyboard and word processing program. The best method for creating the official court record is to have the proceedings captured at the outset via machine stenography by a live stenographic reporter. Establishing a certification requirement in Indiana would go far to address this problem. It is well established that transcripts produced by stenographic reporters are done much more efficiently and accurately when compared to a transcriptionist. Meeting a 30-day deadline to file transcripts is not difficult when the method of capturing the record is done by a live certified stenographic court reporter.

As mentioned in the article, significant training would be required by the users of these new systems. The record will only be as good as the participants’ mindfulness of making the record. Often, witnesses, judges and attorneys inadvertently mumble, rush or speak over one another, rendering that testimony inaudible. Non-verbal noises such as rustling papers, coughs and HVAC noises are recorded as well and often drown out the human voices. A live reporter is able to address the issue at the moment it happens and clarify what is said as well as filter out ambient noise. We have grave concerns of whispered sidebars not being recorded as well as the inadvertent recording of privileged communications. No amount of training will combat these potential interferences when parties become engrossed in the subject matter they are arguing. Furthermore, none of these types of errors will be discerned until months or years later when it is far too late to rectify.

Not only has the cost of implementing this program not yet been revealed, but the data of how much it will cost the state when this technology malfunctions has also not been presented. Mr. Maddox of Jefferson Audio Visual Systems (JAVS) stated in the article that concerns about technical problems are overstated. This is blatantly false. While the myriad examples of how these systems have failed and cost the taxpayers in their respective states millions of additional dollars are too numerous to recount here, of note is that in Jefferson County, Ky., months of systematic failures in numerous courtrooms fitted with JAVS audiovisual recording systems went undetected, forcing the county to pay an additional $1.1 million to upgrade the audiovisual system after multiple failures had occurred.

All of us working in the Indiana judicial system value its integrity and accuracy. At the bare minimum, official court reporters, no matter the method of capturing the record – steno, digital recording or voice writer – should be certified, demonstrating the ability to adhere to a standard of excellence in both accuracy and efficiency. When a citizen’s life or livelihood is on the line, as is the case in many criminal and civil proceedings, should we accept an adequate official court record as good enough? Only a live stenographic court reporter provides the best possible accurate record to ensure that justice is served.•

Sincerely,
Victoria S. Dudeck, RPR, CSR
Vice President, Indiana Shorthand Reporters Association

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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