Most people think of court reporters as people who sit silently in a courtroom and transcribe every word that’s stated on the record. If they do ever speak, it’s because they are asked to read back some portion of the transcript for clarification purposes. When the case is finished, the court reporter finishes the transcript and makes it available to the parties to the case. This is all standard procedure and very common, and that’s why people think that this is basically what court reporters are limited to in terms of their involvement in the legal system.
A recent situation in Florida should help people understand that court reporters can become much more involved in legal matters than many would think. That’s not to say that we look for this type of involvement, as we do not. However, when our role becomes critically important, it’s also critical that we have done our jobs properly and that we are willing to follow whatever decisions are being made that affect our transcripts. That’s our duty to the legal system and one that experienced court reporters take very seriously.
The case at hand involved a couple who sued the City of St. Petersburg Beach, Florida because of problems with enforcing property rights relating to beach access. A link to an article describing the situation can be found here. During the lawsuit, city officials held what is known as a ‘shade’ meeting whereby they met with attorneys to discuss strategic matters for the case. These meetings can be held without being open to the public for obvious reasons. However, once a case is completed, the records of those meetings, typically recorded by a court reporter, must be made available to the public.
After a settlement was reached in the original case, the couple sued the city again because the police there were still not enforcing their property rights. As part of the second lawsuit, the couple sought the transcript from a shade meeting held during the first case. The city refused because its position was that the matter was still not closed. An appeals court there held that the transcript should be made available because the two matters were separate claims and the first one was completed.
This is just one example of how court reporters can become involved in litigation. We need to be aware of all of the decisions that are handed down regarding our transcripts and of course we need to follow them properly. In this case, the higher court was clear in its decision and the court reporter therefore needed to be ready to provide that transcript. As can be seen, a court reporter’s role involves much more than simply typing words silently in front of a judge’s bench.
If you are looking for court reporters in Atlanta who understand all of these different roles, you need to contact the team at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting, LLC today to find out more about how we can help you.