When comedian Bill Cosby was put on trial for sexual assault, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania became the center of high profile cases, much like Orlando was for the Casey Anthony trial back in 2008. The difference this time was that the defendant was famous and considered by many to be America’s dad from when he played Cliff Huxtable on the beloved Cosby Show back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Handling high profile cases might be a once or twice in the career of a court reporter, but there are lessons we can learn from the experience.
Court Reporter Spotlight
Because of the nature of public trials, you may, as a court reporter, find yourself in the thick of the judicial process like Montgomery County Court stenographer Ginny Womeldorf. [Source] When the jury came back asking for testimony to be read from three witnesses, attorneys for both sides reviewed the transcript and informed the court reporter of which sections to read, effectively making the once-silent reporter the center of attention. What she was reading would impact the case and it did. After 52 hours of deliberation, jurors were unable to reach a decision in the case.
Cost of Court
The cost and the litigation is the same whether it’s a famous defendant or average Joe, whether it’s a mistrial or a decision reached, and there’s still a need for a court reporter whether the case is one day or weeks long. The Cosby trial cost the county $219,000 and the bulk of that was for juror expenses and overtime for court personnel, including the court reporter. That amount doesn’t include attorney fees which I’d guess would be high considering the defendant was once considered America’s dad.
The Most Important Person in the Courtroom
While many court reporters will never be put in the place of Ginny W. in such a high profile case, there will be times when you will be asked to read testimony from the transcript you’ve spent hours recording. Whether it’s a case involving a celebrity or not, you’re transformed from the quietest to the most important person in the courtroom. What you say matters to the jury who, like that of the Cosby trial, need additional information before making their decision.
For those of us who may only appear in court as a member of a Tampa jury, know your role is as important to the case as anyone else involved. If you’re an attorney in need of a court reporter for an upcoming case, give us a call today!