There have been many horror stories involving the loss of a court transcript. In a recent case, both a laptop computer and jump drive belonging to a court reporter were stolen from an Ohio courthouse, resulting in the loss of transcripts for several different trials.

While it is not always a court reporter’s fault when a transcript is lost, the inability to produce timely trial records can have a number of consequences for both the court reporter and your client, including:

  • Lost right to appeal. Federal laws give defendants the right to receive a record of their trial for review—an important step in the trial appeal process. But when transcripts, exhibits, or other trial records go missing, the defendant has effectively lost his right to an appeal, often leaving the court no choice but to retry the case.
  • Suppressed evidence. An incomplete court record can have a devastating effect on the outcome of a case. Many attorneys have seen crucial evidence suppressed because of a simple omission of evidence documentation, such as failure to record a copy of the search warrant affidavit in the transcript.
  • Contempt charges. In some cases, there may be no other option but to hold a court reporter in contempt until she finishes her work. In one case, a court reporter had failed to produce a transcript for an appeal for over two years, despite having been granted four extensions. Eventually, the appeals court found her in contempt, and she was sentenced to jail, where she was ordered to start typing until the record was complete.

One of the easiest things court reporters can do to prevent unnecessary losses is to back up their work. Saving early and often to a remote server or online database not only prevents permanent loss of transcripts, but also makes it more likely that attorneys will be able to locate an original transcript months or years in the future. Visit our court reporting services page to find out how we can help make your depositions run as smoothly as possible.

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