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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. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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