Missing Court Transcripts Present Huge Legal Problems
Court reporting is important work — and it is not something that can be tasked to just anyone. In fact, Harris County, Texas is facing a legal nightmare as court reporter Sondra Humphrey fails to produce important transcripts in not one, but several, cases — all relating to Karen Wooding Bryant “a woman convicted of family violence and a repeat DWI defendant,” according to Texas Lawyer. The court reporter even spent 30 days in jail for contempt and still insists she is unable to produce any record of Bryant’s hearings. Similarly, an unnamed defense attorney is going to head-to-head with Georgia court reporter Lisa Anderson about the fees, specifics, and legality of obtaining e-transcripts.
Why Do These Cases Matter?
These cases demonstrate a very important thing: a court transcript can be an essential tool during the appeals process. Many attorneys use court transcripts to justify their request for an appeal, while others revisit prior testimony (i.e., court transcripts) and highlight parts that may have been overlooked, underplayed, or even misconstrued. Court transcripts act as a concrete record — and, sometimes, even evidence. These transcripts remove any uncertainty or cases of he-said, she-said from the court of law.
What Does It Take To Be Responsible For These Transcripts?
Humphrey’s situation is very rare. Nearly all court reporters and professional court reporting employees are known for their reliability and exactness — and courts and court reporting services don’t exactly take their word for it, either. In order to work for a court reporting agency, workers must undergo an education program (about 33.3 months long, although it varies) and, after, pass a rigorous certification exam. The National Court Reporters Association certification, for instance, requires stenographers to type an absolute minimum of 225 words per minute.
There are roughly 21,200 U.S. men and women working in professional court reporting — and these individuals are chosen very carefully and ultimately have a hand in serious court testimony and the accuracy of court documentation and records.