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Last Post 09 Jun 2020 10:14 AM by  Yolanda Fox
R-20-0013 Petition to Amend Various Rules of Procedure Related to Creating the Verbatim Record of Judicial Proceedings
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Marianne
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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01 May 2020 12:06 PM
To Whom It May Concern:

I have been a court reporter since 1978. I spent 21 years working in the Maricopa County Superior Court covering all calendars: civil, criminal, and family court. While there, I feel the court reporters do a just and accurate and timely service to the judicial system. We are able to read back testimony on the spot and provide expedited transcripts for the lawyers when they need it. One important service I assisted the judges for whom I worked was particularly in regard to the criminal court proceedings. As you may know, dates are important. If a date is missed between the time of a change of plea to the time of sentencing, for instance, it is possible that that could jeopardize that case necessitating starting again and incurring the extra costs of transporting a defendant from where he or she is confined back to court. I know the judge appreciated it if I questioned him on whether he actually meant the date he said on the record. It is the human element that allows that.
In addition, we are required to be governed by the Supreme Court and also are required to achieve continuing education every year. There seems to be absolutely no scrutiny when it comes to whomever or whatever it is that transcribes important proceedings in the courts.
I currently am a freelance reporter.
It is so important not to risk the inherent inefficiencies of ER because property, freedom, and life all depend on a clear and accurate record of the proceedings. We have ethical responsibilities to take down the testimony and provide transcripts. We are able to control the environment by asking lawyers to slow down or to make sure there are no overlapping voices. Those are things an electronic device cannot do.
I strongly urge you to consider these attributes we provide. I know there are many more I could provide for you.
Please vote against any changes to the current rules.
Thank you very much.

Marianne S. Burton, RPR
BB&S Reporting Services
480-236-4227
masuburton@q.com
Elizabeth Bingert
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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01 May 2020 01:08 PM
Elizabeth Bingert
1622 W Wilshire Dr
Phoenix, AZ 85007
602-999-1150
bingerte@gmail.com
Bar No.: 030277

I am a practicing attorney in Maricopa County, and I believe these proposed changes are premature given the current state of electronic recording technology currently used in Superior Court courtrooms.

My practice focuses entirely on criminal law, and the courtrooms in which I practice currently use "For the Record" ("FTR") audio/visual recording. There are at least two instances that I can recall when FTR failed to sufficiently record a proceeding.

The first was in 2016 and I needed to use a witness's testimony from a previous proceeding in a retrial. The audio was so poor that the judge would not allow me to present the recording in court. Thankfully, because we had a court reporter present in the first trial, I had an accurate transcript to read into the record.

The second instance was in December 2019. During a lengthy, serious trial (over 30 charged counts), the FTR repeatedly froze. This happened multiple days and, but for the presence of the court reporter, we would have wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars waiting for the problem to be fixed. Even after the first repair, the system still froze. The presence of the court reporter was essential.

I read the Supreme Court Task Force's report and found it interesting that their foremost recommendation was to increase recruitment efforts for court reporters. The tenor of their report seemed to indicate that any changes at this time may be premature.

As a practical matter, if we were to rely on our current recording system, it would hinder the way our lawyers practice. To be tethered to a podium so that the microphone picks up my voice would negatively impact my ability to effectively present a case to the fact finder and move about the courtroom.
Given the current state of technology, the system in Maricopa County is not ready to rely on electronic recording, especially in matters where the record's accuracy is crucial on appeal. There is too much at stake. The issue should be revisited if there are enough technological advances, but we are far from that point.
Yes
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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01 May 2020 02:19 PM
Kelly Palmer
3304 W. Papermill Rd.
P.O Box 601
Taylor, Arizona 85939


To Whom it May Concern,

Having worked as reporter since 1987, and in the last five years having had experience in transcribing digitally taped proceedings for the Court, I can avowal that a recording is never perfect. Why are attorneys and judges accepting the words "Indiscernible" "inaudible" or dashes all through the transcript? And when a hearing wasn't recorded for whatever technical issue or the recording is so bad you can't make it out, why is that okay?

Our rights should have a greater role in the mindset of these rule changes. It is not acceptable for any litigant to have to pay extra due to a malfunction or a record that is insufficient. The few hearings that are still protected by the rules for the presence of a court reporter should remain as they are. The rural counties would have to invest a small fortune to update their systems for any recording of a trial or grand jury. If a digital tape has to be produced for a proceeding you can count on it not meeting the rule requirements on the timelines. Court Admin and attorneys have begged me to do transcripts from digital tapes just so they could comply with the rules. Transcriptionists are not held accountable for any timeline in the rules nor for a transcript that doesn't make any sense. I have seen so many words mis-transcribed by transcribers due to their lack of training in the fields that are handled in the courts. It is definitely not cheaper. Transcribers can charge what they want and an hourly fee for sitting and listening to the proceeding before they even begin to edit the transcript. I know of one company that is having high school students do their transcripts. If you want a transcript from a digital tape the next day, you will pay plenty for it, but I would say you wouldn't find a transcriptionist to even do it. The propaganda by the electronic media is misleading. Court Reporters are the best choice for accuracy and efficiency. Court Reporters have integrity and are professionals. There is not a shortage of reporters to cover the hearings that are now mandated by the rules to have a reporter.

I have had to read back the record for the attorneys, Judge and a few times for the Jury in the last five trials I have reported. My Judge even commented that he would have had to declare a mistrial had we not been able to access the record on the spot like we did. I could give many instances where the recording has caused issues that otherwise would not have been.

Respectfully I request that you consider the fallout that will take place if these changes are made. Litigants and the Courts will suffer unnecessarily and the acceptability of a flawed record will degrade the integrity of the justice system.

Kelly Palmer
3304 W. Papermill
P.O. Box 601
Taylor, Arizona 85939
kellplmr@gmail.com



Christopher Bradley
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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01 May 2020 02:46 PM
I am in opposition of the suggested rule changes. As a former Judicial Assistant assigned to the Criminal Court Administration of Superior Court, I have had the privilege of serving in a capacity which offered an in-person view of the means and methods by which a court functions. I was present when electronic recording was introduced as a test vehicle and its expansion from courtroom to courtroom. I have witnessed attorney-client communications recorded without the knowledge or consent of the parties. I have observed the loss of electronically recorded proceedings due to technical malfunction and human error, usually noted with the announcement “forgot to start the recording”. I have read transcripts littered with the term “inaudible” because the speaker did not speak clearly or loud enough for the recording devices and were not subjectively reviewed by a contractor whose sole responsibility is to churn out transcripts with little regard for the quality of that transcript, and yet still are unable to meet the turnaround requirements set by the courts. I have endured attorneys uncontrolled and speaking over each other as they continued unchecked only to later realize the electronic record was rendered unintelligible.
I have also viewed technical failures encountered by the court reporter, at which point the reporter was capable of instantly notifying the court or continuing on as they maintain redundant and independent systems to ensure no loss of the record. I have witnessed courtroom participants encouraged by the court reporter to maintain decorum and keep a clear and concise record by advising the judicial officer. I have observed the court reporter provide additional services not normally provided to the court that support ADA guidelines on a moment’s notice and without adding delay to an already over-burdened system. I have seen the court reporter utilize new technologies in a responsible manner beneficial to the courts, acting as a voice to advise and assist the court where an electronic system cannot.
These suggested rule changes do not protect the record and would represent a grave threat to due process and the proper preservation of criminal proceedings. The Task Force summary reported it “developed changes…to supplement court reporters…”, but these changes do not supplement the reporter, they allow for the replacement of the reporter by electronic recording. There is no stopgap within these rule changes that provide for the best alternative to be retained when keeping the record, it promotes the elimination of the certified court report. By eliminating the requirement that they shall be used for criminal cases, death penalty cases, grand jury proceedings and complex civil trials, the administration seeks to introduce risk without mitigation into the most critical of proceedings. The elimination these proceedings that require a certified reporter have been repeatedly upheld as too important to risk to the inherent inefficiencies of digital recording and is incredibly dangerous. By introducing requirements for the parties to undertake the burden of paying for a court reporter to be present, they are thereby deterring the use of one in place of electronic recording.
The in-person court reporter acts as a responsible party, cognizant of their role and sworn duty to ensure the record is complete and correct. As our courts say themselves, “property, freedom and life all can depend on a clear and accurate record.” These recommended changes put the rights of individuals at risk. Please, protect the rights of Arizona residents. Preserve an accurate recording of proceedings.

Chris Bradley
Goodyear, AZ 85338
602-686-6651
chrisbradley73@hotmail.com
David Euchner
New Member
Posts:9 New Member

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01 May 2020 05:38 PM
COMMENT OF ARIZONA ATTORNEYS FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE REGARDING PETITION TO AMEND VARIOUS RULES OF PROCEDURE RELATED TO CREATING THE VERBATIM RECORD OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS

JARED G. KEENAN, AZ Bar No. 027068
jaredkeenan.aacj@gmail.com
Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice
P.O. Box 41213
Phoenix, AZ 85080-1213
(480)-812-1700
Attachments
Jennifer H
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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01 May 2020 08:12 PM
I OPPOSE this petition.

I am in opposition of the suggested rule changes. The currently mandated proceedings are just too important to risk to the inherent inefficiencies of ER because property, freedom, and life all depend on a clear and accurate record. Please vote against any changes to the current rules.

I am in opposition of the suggested rule changes. Certified Court Reporters have ethical responsibilities in taking down testimony and in the production of the transcripts. These areas are instances where people's lives and liberty are at stake. To rely on electronic recording leaves too many opportunities for error. Please vote against any changes to the current rules.

I am against any change to the current rules. The Keeping the Record Committee in 2005 did a thorough study with all stakeholders present regarding what court hearings needed a certified court reporter to preserve testimony and what the best practices were. Nothing has changed since 2005 that would warrant changing the policy determinations previously made by the Arizona Supreme Court. People’s lives and liberty are at stake, and relying on electronic recording to create the record would be a major injustice. Please vote against any changes to the current rules.

The SKREM Task Force last year was a rushed process and the resulting Final Report, where these suggested rule changes came from, are not in the public interest. The legislative language from the Final Report that was sent to the Legislature this year was dropped. The bill died because of many issues and recognition that this would be a huge disservice to the litigants and to our legal system as a whole. Please vote against any change to the current rules.

Jennifer Honn
2302 N Central Avenue, Unit 309
Phoenix, Arizona 85004
jenniferhonn@iotalegal.com
480-290-9460
AZ Certified Reporter 50885
Christine
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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01 May 2020 08:22 PM
I am in opposition of the suggested rule changes. The currently mandated proceedings are just too important to risk to the inherent inefficiencies of ER because property, freedom, and life all depend on a clear and accurate record. Please vote against any changes to the current rules. Certified Court Reporters have ethical responsibilities in taking down testimony and in the production of the transcripts. These areas are instances where people's lives and liberty are at stake. To rely on electronic recording leaves too many opportunities for error. Please vote against any changes to the current rules. The Keeping the Record Committee in 2005 did a thorough study with all stakeholders present regarding what court hearings needed a certified court reporter to preserve testimony and what the best practices were. Nothing has changed since 2005 that would warrant changing the policy determinations previously made by the Arizona Supreme Court. People’s lives and liberty are at stake, and relying on electronic recording to create the record would be a major injustice. Please vote against any changes to the current rules. The SKREM Task Force last year was a rushed process and the resulting Final Report, where these suggested rule changes came from, are not in the public interest. The legislative language from the Final Report that was sent to the Legislature this year was dropped. The bill died because of many issues and recognition that this would be a huge disservice to the litigants and to our legal system as a whole.

Please vote against any change to the current rules.

Christine Johnson, RPR, RMR
user592454@cox.net
Phoenix, Az
kweek
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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01 May 2020 09:11 PM
I am writing in strong opposition to the R-20-0013 Petition to Amend Various Rules of Procedure Related to Creating the Verbatim Record of Judicial Proceedings.

The court reporting profession has been the guardians of the record throughout all of recorded history. Don’t mistake the age of the profession as an indication that it is an outdated, antiquated method of capturing the record. Quite the opposite is true. Court reporters and the equipment they utilize in taking the record are oftentimes the most sophisticated technology in the room. The ability for a reporter to hear what is being said, stroke it on their steno machine, and have that immediately translated into readable English for the judicial officer presiding over the hearing is a remarkable feat of advanced technology. Reporters spend countless hours a year staying abreast of the technological changes and educating themselves on such changes to improve the product they produce for the participants in litigation, their transcripts. Attempting to replace the primary, gold standard of court reporters with what is and always will be a back up and subpar method of creating the record will not result in financial savings and creates a danger to the very citizens we are here to protect.

I have been working as a court reporter for 17 years, the last five of which I have had the privilege of working as an official reporter in Maricopa County. The reporters working in the court system throughout the state understand the importance of their positions and take the responsibility very seriously. You will never get that type of dedication to the protection of the record from an audio recording and a transcriptionist.

I have seen for myself the repeated failures of FTR, either through user error or technical failure. Sometimes that failure is not discovered until the hearing has concluded. However, when a reporter is present, they are able to immediately stop, interrupt, and ask for clarification or to have something repeated ensuring an accurate record. Reporters are bound by ethical guidelines to maintain impartiality thereby ensuring all participants, regardless of their circumstances, a full, complete, and accurate transcript.

Please strongly consider the multitude of remarks you have received in opposition to this amendment from all types of stakeholders; average citizens, attorneys, as well as court reporters. Additionally, consider if it was your life hanging in the balance or that of a loved one, would you feel comfortable with having it rest on anything less than the gold standard.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kristi Week, RPR
Mesa, AZ
Kristi.week@gmail.com
Ursula Pappas
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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01 May 2020 11:19 PM
Ursula H. Pappas, RMR, RPR, CCR-AZ, CSR-CA
750 East Northern Avenue, #1115
Phoenix, Arizona 85020
602-795-3101. Ursulapappas@gmail.com

I have been active in the field of court reporting for 50 years. I was employed as an official reporter in Pittsburgh in the state court and US District Court for 11 years, then owned and operated a court reporting agency there with approximately 35 employees for 30 years. Presently I contract my services to two large international court reporting agencies and work in the Phoenix area during the winter. I do this as I have always enjoyed my profession and enjoy working on legal cases.

Years ago the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh, PA) was going to install an electronic system to record all trials and dismiss the official reporters. The thought was it would be a huge cost savings. The electronic media companies gave proposals on efficiency, cost, no employees to contend with, a big savings on salaries/benefits, and the list went on. On paper, it looked good. No, it looked fantastic! The media salesmen gave fantastic presentations. There was only one slight problem, after a careful, detailed analysis, their presentations proved false. As all good salesmen do, they said and kept repeating what their potential clients wanted to hear: they would save millions and not have employees to contend with.

There’s an old saying: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Those 10 words led to an exhaustive analysis conducted by court officials, court reporters employed by the court system, and documented information provided by the National Court Reporters Association in Washington, D.C.
This analysis, verified by written proof, proved there were quite a few omissions and misrepresentations in the media salesmen’s presentations.

Firstly, as we all know with working with computers in our everyday life, they malfunction. What do you do? Call your IT department. Computers work in conjunction with audio and video equipment. The more equipment that’s installed, the larger the IT department. You have to have well trained IT employees in both audio/video media and computers. The larger the court system, the more equipment that’s installed, the more staff to maintain it.

A good IT employee earns approximately what a reporter does. An audio or audio/video setup per courtroom is very expensive as it involves extensive wiring and placement of multiple equipment both in the courtroom and the judge’s chambers, and that cost is multiplied by the number of courtrooms per county. Additionally, you are employing a large technical staff who,have to be housed on site as they have to be available immediately as trials can’t wait for a day until a repairman can come. You aren’t employing one or even 10 people if you have perhaps 30 or more courtrooms. You have many more. In addition to the IT department, you have to have staff in each courtroom to monitor equipment to track what is being recorded during a trial along with making sure the equipment is functioning. These are employees who have to be housed in facilities near the courtrooms.

In addition to staff to monitor and maintain equipment, you have the equipment itself. It is expensive and as we all know with computers and cell phones, they are outdated the day we buy them and have to be upgraded or replaced on a consistent basis. In addition to that, there is the cost of their operation.

There are many more details I could go into but the short answer of what the Pittsburgh state court system found after its long study: on cost alone, there were no savings and could potentially cost much more! This was never revisited as the circumstances of what all is involved never changes. If anything, with more advanced equipment, it only gets more complicated and expensive! There were approximately 45 courtrooms involved in this study.

Then we go on to the most critical point that must be considered. If a recording fails and it’s not discovered, there would have to be a new trial granted at perhaps multiple thousands of dollars. If that happened in a capital case, a murderer could go free as there’s no accurate record for appeal. There is also the aspect of it being very difficult and time consuming to prepare a transcript from an audio recording as witnesses have heavy accents, people mumble, microphones are covered by accident, there’s a glitch in the equipment that’s not discovered and parts of the proceedings are missing. We go back to a new trial being granted. Judges have to rehear perhaps a three-week trail. That involves the salaries of court staff and all IT employees involved. Just on that one incident we are into tens of thousands of dollars.

I would be glad to meet with anyone on your investigative board to go over any questions you may have. Thank you.

Respectfully submitted
Ursula H. Pappas

Clark Edwards
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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01 May 2020 11:59 PM
Clark L. Edwards, RPR
PO Box 411
Holbrook AZ 86025
ClarkLEdwards@gmail.com
(801) 793-9805


GUARDIANS OF THE RECORD. There are so many aspects to this role a shorthand reporter plays including ensuring parties to a proceeding speak in a manner that all participants may hear to some reasonable degree.

That words are formed in the English language intelligibly.

That speakers exercise at least a minimum level of decorum by each taking their turn to speak while all others listen.

Requiring that distracting noises of all kinds are kept extremely low so as to not prevent apprehension and audible reception of each word delivered throughout the proceeding.

Diplomatically requesting necessary breaks so that all may enjoy a period of rest and rejuvenation before continuing with the business to be conducted at hand.

Inviting speakers to pace themselves in their delivery in order to be comprehensible with at least reasonable volume that all may fully participate.

Assessing and determining the needs of transcript requests and the required needs of those ordering a transcript and delivering such timely.

Reading back portions of the proceeding as requested to assist in smooth flow of thought and continuity of examinations.

Delivering realtime translation as requested for instantaneous delivery of the spoken word.

Accurate identification of speakers by name.

And many more duties too numerous to mention here.

These and many others are the solemn and vital responsibilities of the shorthand reporter, the GUARDIAN OF THE RECORD.







Yolanda Fox
Basic Member
Posts:158 Basic Member

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01 Jun 2020 07:40 AM
David K. Byers, Administrative Director
Administrative Office of the Courts
1501 West Washington St.
Phoenix AZ 85007
(602) 452-3966
mmathes@courts.az.gov

Petitioner submits the attached Reply.
Attachments
Yolanda Fox
Basic Member
Posts:158 Basic Member

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09 Jun 2020 10:14 AM
David K. Byers, Administrative Director
Administrative Office of the Courts
1501 West Washington St.
Phoenix AZ 85007
(602) 452-3966
mmathes@courts.az.gov

Petitioner submits the attached Supplement to Reply.
Attachments
Topic is locked
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