Saturday, December 14, 2013

O is for Obsolete

I'm officially done with the academics I'm taking this quarter.  That also means I'm officially done with academics for this crappy school. 

I know our campus is dying out and they don't give a crap about us anymore, but it would be nice if they at least pretended to care.  As usual with this school's online program, my Courtroom Procedures class was a joke.  The east coast teacher (EC) can't even be bothered to discuss the class with our teachers??  EC covered SIX chapters that were already covered by our teacher in the Deposition Procedures class the previous quarter.  Nice.

Also, EC would give us a short article every week and ask us to answer between 4 and 7 questions about the article.  I wrote, "I was unable to find an answer for this question in the article" at least once on three different weeks.  No response.  It's like she just opened the file to see that there was writing for each question and then moved on.  And that right there is pretty much my entire issue with online classes.  If the class was on ground (which is what I signed up for), then I would just raise my hand, say, "I can't find that answer", and the teacher would answer/help me with that.

This EC also told us that we had to do a field trip.  Yes, that's right, a field trip.  A field trip that we had to set up for ourselves and that could ONLY take place during week five of the course.  What. the. fuck.

My classmate Amy got us hooked up with a tour of a county courthouse.  It was very cool!

We met with the Managing Court Reporter (MCR).  She answered our questions for nearly an hour, then took us on a tour. 

We got to meet the Appeals Clerk.  Things are changing in the court world!  They only use court reporters for juvenile and criminal court in this particular county.  The lawyers have to pre-mark the exhibitions (used to be the court reporter's job).  The lawyers are also responsible for keeping their exhibits.  They now take pictures/scan the exhibits and put them on a CD for the Appeals Clerk to keep on file.   She showed us a large bookcase with boxes just big enough to hold the circumference of a CD.  Each box was labeled with a year and held all the exhibit CDs for all the cases that year. 

She told us they were in the process of getting ALL the cases in the basement scanned and on CDs.  She said they had to hold transcripts and exhibits for FIFTY years, in case of an appeal. 

I asked if they also used some sort of secure Cloud storage in case of a fire.

She and the MCR looked at each other and at the same time said, "We never even thought of that."  The Appeals Clerk laughed and said, "Great, now I have even more work to do!" 

I laughed and said, "I'm looking for a job!"

We got to sit in on an actual case for a little while.  We came in to that courthouse right when they were about to go on a break.  It was perfect timing!  The court reporter covering the case showed us some of the exhibits (an AR-15!) and told us about the case.

It was an attempted arson, attempted murder case.  This guy's ex-girlfriend used her key and entered his house.  She proceeded to trash EVERYTHING.  She broke all the electronics, shredded pictures and clothes, even poured gasoline on a bunch of stuff in anticipation of lighting it up.

He came home, heard someone in the house, and called the cops.  She used one of his own guns and took a shot at him (she missed). 

When the court reporter was telling us all this and showing us the pictures of all the destroyed personal property, I jokingly said, "Allegedly."  The court reporter looked at me and said, "Oh, no.  She did it." and then she laughed. 

After the picture show-and-tell, we went to the basement to see the records that still needed to be scanned.  It's a fairly monumental job! 

Amy mentioned that it was spooky down there and the perfect place for a ghost!  MCR said, "Oh, we have three!"  She then explained that about five years ago, some really strange things were happening, so the  county paid someone to check for ghosts!!   The ghost hunter found three: a Native American Indian (and he's very angry), an old woman, and a child.  It's like every scary movie ever made.  Taxpayer money well spent!

We then went back to the court room and observed for a while longer.  The defendant got a little weepy and it was all I could do to not role my eyes. 

Also, strangely, this happened...
In the jury box, there was a woman sitting in the back row, wearing a ratty old sweatshirt.  She busted out with cookies and milk!  I shit you not.  She had Oreos and was pulling them apart, licking off the center, and drinking a little bottle of milk.  After her snack, she crossed her arms, settled back against the wall, and for all the world, looked like she was about to nod off!

I asked MCR about it.  She said some people get a special dispensation to be able to eat in the jury box.  Hypoglycemics and what not.    (Something to remember should I ever be called to jury duty!)

One of the questions we asked MCR was about the future of the profession.  There's a lot of technology that records trials now.  She told us that when she started in the profession 25 years ago, she was told that it would soon be an obsolete profession due to recordings.  Hasn't happened yet!  She has the monumental task of juggling nine court reporters for twelve courtrooms.  Each courtroom has a mixed day of civil, juvenile, family, and criminal, so it is doable, it just takes a bit of finagling. 

She told us that most of today's reporters are really starting to age out.  She requires all her reporters to be realtime reporters (which means the court reporters are hooked in to the judge's computer and sometimes the lawyers as well - they can see realtime what the court reporters are writing).  No paper machines in her courts! (That's the kind with the paper coming out of the top.)

The trip was very interesting and got us all pumped up to keep working hard toward graduating.   I can see it working for that as a reason for the assigning the field trip.  I don't see why it had to be in a specific week, and I can't tell you how difficult it was for us to get the thing set up.  Court reporters are incredibly busy people!

Still would rather do captioning, Ruth!

1 comment:

kmkat said...

You read Norma's blog, right? She used to be a court reporter, but has been a real-time captioner for years.

No off-site storage? Duh. Of course, the old paper records were not backed up, either, but still. Where is their IT person? Our county DA's office is going paperless January 1, which will be interesting.