Court Reporters / Stenographers

Court reporters put up with a lot. Not only are they largely condescended to by the often middling attorneys they deal with every day, but they have to listen intently to everything lawyers say all the time. And when they’ve managed to turn around two days worth of testimony into a transcript by mid-morning the next day, they get a courteous nod and a “what took you so long?”

The job really is its own circle of hell. The sort of thing that might make somebody type “I hate my job” over and over and over again instead of keeping up with the proceedings.

But not every court reporter is a martyr deserving of veneration. If, for example, a court reporting service just didn’t prepare transcripts in criminal cases for months on end, they may earn themselves a hearty benchslapping…

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* Clearly we’ve got some problems, Cleary: Following Argentina’s default, the country is being advised to drop the law firm that said it was a good idea to default in the first place. [The Guardian]

* Lawyers have been flocking to Ferguson, Missouri, left and right to serve as “the eyes and ears of those who protect and guarantee civil rights.” That’s nice, but it’s kind of not working. [National Law Journal]

* “I really don’t know how the people who work there can keep a sense of sort of personal dignity.” American Law plunged in the rankings because of its “dubious employment prospects.” Ouch. [Washington City Paper]

* In case you’ve been wondering what the NFL’s response to all of the cheerleader wage-and-hour complaints are, here it is: “Labor law? LOL. The NFL is immune from state labor law.” [NBC Bay Area]

* Apparently there’s a national court-reporting championship that the world has been missing out on — until now. There was a major upset this year, and a new winner was crowned. Congrats! [WSJ Law Blog]

He hit random keys or wrote, ‘I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job,’ over and over.

– An anonymous source describing stenographer Daniel Kochanski’s “bizarre antics” during numerous trials, which have caused judges to hold reconstruction hearings to repair the record in many cases.

(There’s much more to this story, so keep reading to see what happened.)

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* Roger Clemens was found not guilty on charges of lying to Congress about using steroids. [New York Times]

* Why did the ABA Journal kill a feature story on mentoring by Dan Hull and Scott Greenfield? The world may never know, and the world may never see the story. [Simple Justice]

* Q: What does a male lawyer do when his female secretary gives him a nice little Father’s Day gift? A: Freak out because random acts of kindness are so unusual, and then write a letter to a New York Times advice columnist. [New York Times]

* If you’ll be in D.C. this Thursday, June 21, check out this battle of the law firm bands — a fun event that we’ve covered before, as well as a fundraiser for a worthy cause. [Banding Together 2012]

* ATL readers are awesome. You guys have already been a huge help to this court reporter who almost died when he fell into the Chicago River. The family is still taking donations, and now there’s a PayPal link, so it’s even easier to lend a hand to Andrew Pitts and his family. [Kruse Reporters Blog]

* A closer look at the continuing rapid progress of predictive coding (or, as skeptics would say, our new computer overlords) in legal discovery. [WSJ Law Blog]

* New York’s “hot dog hooker,” Ms. Catherine Scalia (no, not that Scalia), was sentenced to jail. Maybe she should have deigned to sell chocolate milkshakes instead. [Gothamist]

This must be the most profanity-laced piece of transcript since Aaron Wider’s deposition. It’s the transcript of the sentencing hearing before Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.) at which Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Pokorny was attacked by the defendant, before the court reporter and defense counsel tackled the assailant.

The transcript was prepared by Ron Tolkin, the court reporter involved in the incident, from an audio recording. Even the heroic Mr. Tolkin can’t simultaneously (1) kick the a** of a kid decades his junior and (2) transcribe the proceedings for posterity.

Excerpts appear below. For the full transcript, see the link at the end of this post.

Victor Wright transcript Above the Law blog.jpg

UPDATE: Another choice excerpt, pointed out by several of you in the comments:

Victor Wright Ron Tolkin Carolyn Pokorny Eastern District New York ATL.jpg

To read the full transcript, click here (PDF). If you do, the “press it in” discussion might be confusing (and sound completely filthy). An E.D.N.Y. source clarifies:

["Pressing it in" refers] to the CSO, Marshalls and Deputy discussing how to activate the panic button. In the old E.D.N.Y. courthouse, you push in, but in the new one, you pull out.

Sentencing Hearing Transcript: United States v. Victor Wright (PDF)

Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: Harry Batchelder (And Court Reporter of the Day: Ron Tolkin)

The Empire State is sending all sorts of craziness our way lately. From the New York — no, not the Washington — Post:

A female federal prosecutor was viciously attacked by a hulking, razor-wielding drug dealer in a Brooklyn courtroom yesterday – and was saved when the thug’s 72-year-old lawyer and others tackled him.

“He was going to slash her throat,” said defense lawyer Harry Batchelder, who, along with a court reporter and two marshals, slammed Victor Wright, 27 [or 37?], to the ground and grabbed an inch-long razor blade from him.

Criminal defense lawyers are badass — even the septuagenarians. And don’t forget the court reporter:

“Why don’t you try me instead of her?” stenographer Ron Tolkin shouted at the cowardly criminal as he leaped on Wright, before the group fell to the ground in a heap.

Both the elderly lawyer and Tolkin, 60, are former military men who served in Vietnam.

And what about Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.) — what did he do? From Newsday:

Block immediately left the bench after the melee started, and more marshals rushed into the courtroom and helped subdue Wright, court officials said.

That’s too bad. This story would have been perfect with the addition of a black-robed avenger, whacking the criminal into submission with a gavel.

P.S. Despite our admiration for federal judges qua judges, if we needed to be defended against a knife-wielding lunatic, we’d go with a state court judge any day of the week. E.g., Judge Ira Robinson.

RAZOR MANIAC JUMPS FED PROSECUTOR IN COURT [New York Post]
Drug dealer attacks 2 in Brooklyn courtroom [New York Newsday]

Is trouble brewing in Paradise? And no, we’re not referring to the computer and wi-fi problems that are causing us to blog at a somewhat sluggish leisurely pace today, here in sunny Miami.

We now bring you a bit of local color, about allegedly procrastinating court reporters in south Florida….

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