I am perplexed and bewildered. How many times do the largest decisions rest on the smallest of details? Reflecting on this, a twenty-second swipe of a hand, or worse, a two-second pounding of a fist would have avoided an entire domino effect reaching all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court. A little over two years ago, a preliminary hearing was held in a shooting case in Newport News, VA. For some reason, the court reporter did not certify the transcript. And the transcript was not entered as evidence into the hearing. Maybe the reporter was never asked to certify it or maybe she simply forgot. Perhaps the attorney was distracted by other cases and neglected some paperwork. Whatever the case, this transcript is now the central theme around which an appeal has been filed.
Because the transcript was not signed, and because the reporter could not be located on the day of the trial to certify the transcript, the attorney of record on the day of the hearing was called upon to certify the transcript. Yes, the defendant’s previous attorney.
I’ve talked to court reporters who say they would never put out a transcript without a signature page. I had a discussion with an attorney the other day who did not bat an eye at the fact this transcript was not signed. He says it happens all the time. Well, I think this case ought to make attorney or court reporter in the state of Virginia think twice about their transcript order. Then again, maybe that’s just me. Because I think everything that goes on in the courtroom just might hold some weight and should be on the record.
Can we really serve justice in Virginia when what goes on in the courtroom is not preserved on the record?
For more details on the case, check out our article: Virginia Supreme Court Considers Attorney/Client Privilege