As Gov. John Kasich considers House Bill 487, which would restrict the price court reporters charge for transcripts, he should keep in mind a number of facts.
Court reporters face a daunting task managing the day-to-day court proceedings. Witnesses, attorneys and sometime judges often fail to express their thoughts in a clear, articulate manner. There are times when witnesses speak too fast, or testimony and questioning overlap. Witnesses often become very animated or emotional while under the duress of examination, and sometimes different languages present additional challenges.
Added to this potential chaos is the sheer complexity of testimony and arguments involving intricate and extremely technical language. Court reporters, not machines, have the ability to account for each of these variables to ensure that the most precise and complete transcription is accomplished. They are not mere bystanders in the courtroom. Frequently they are actively engaged in directing the traffic of courtroom presentations so that everyone is fairly and accurately heard. Without an accurate transcription, the rights of the litigants are at risk of being compromised.
For those who believe recording devices are more cost-effective, they need only experience moments where tapes from hearings were later discovered to be inaudible.
Many times, I have observed court reporters painstakingly make every effort to accurately transcribe court proceedings. They devote a tremendous number of hours training and studying their craft. They invest significant sums in high-tech equipment needed to perform their job.
House Bill 487 fails to give credence to the tremendous tasks court reporters perform. No one questions their importance. Neither should they question their right to a fair compensation.
Kasich should veto House Bill 487.
FREDERICK D. BENTON JR.
Original Article: The Columbus Dispatch