Friday, June 12, 2015

Court Reporters Rule

Court reporters, those women and men who sit in courtrooms on a daily basis and record the hearings in civil and criminal cases, are some of the hardest working people at the courthouse.

They sit for hours listening to endless testimony, making sure to capture every word correctly - which can be difficult when a witness is soft-spoken or speaking way too quickly - and then spend hours transcribing that testimony for judges and lawyers. The reporters must keep track of all prosecution and defense exhibits and make sure they are properly marked as evidence during trials.

And they are often summoned to court by judges at a moment’s notice, having to drop whatever else they’re working on.

It’s not uncommon to see the registered professional reporters working late into the evening in their offices next to the press room at the courthouse. There is a lot of reliance on court reporters and I have no doubt the judicial system would come to a screeching halt if they weren’t around.
Judges, often in subtle ways marked with humor, express their appreciation and recognize just how important those reporters are.
A court reporter stands ready to transcribe

During the trial of a Lansdale pawn shop robber last week that played out before Judge Thomas P. Rogers, jurors needed an explanation of the law during their deliberations. The judge summoned everyone to the courtroom and the jurors ended up being seated before trusted court reporter Shellie Camp made her way from her office to the courtroom to record the legal instructions.

“You might think it’s the judge who’s most important but it’s the court reporter,” Rogers joked, eliciting laughter from jurors. “She’s on her way.”

Indeed, not until Camp was in her seat could anything commence. COURT REPORTERS RULE!

On another day in Courtroom 5, defense lawyers, prosecutors and even Judge Steven T. O’Neill began noticing the temperature rising. With a courtroom overflowing with defendants awaiting pretrial conferences and their lawyers, it was noticeably warm.

Judge Steven T. O'Neill/Photo Carl Hessler Jr.
“What did you do to that air conditioning?” O’Neill jokingly inquired of his indispensable court reporter Ginny Womelsdorf, who he suggested has an in with maintenance officials when she complains the air conditioning makes the courtroom too cold.  “You have too much power.”

The judge was referring to the fact that Womelsdorf’s husband, Rich, is the skilled trades supervisor who fixes everything at the courthouse, the go-to man for all problems mechanical, who often is summoned to courtrooms to either turn down or turn up the temperature.
Court reporter Ginny Womelsdorf /Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.

“The princess of the courtroom,” O’Neill lightheartedly said about the shivering Womelsdorf, during a break in the court's business.  “We’re going to get you gloves. We’ll get you a blankie.”

I was left wondering, was Womelsdorf dethroned? Just a week earlier, O’Neill referred to Womelsdorf as the “Queen of the courtroom,” giving judicial notice that she was aware of everything and kept track of everything that occurred in his courtroom.

Yes, I truly believe COURT REPORTERS RULE!

So here's a tip of the hat to Womelsdorf and Camp and all those reliable, hardworking court reporters in Montgomery County: Amy Boyer, Odalys Cummins, Magdalena Dineen, Mary Faino, Norma Gerrity, Jennifer Gillespie, Charles Gorgol, Mary Lou Hoelscher, Anita Huber, Donna Jones, Susan Laucella, Joan Mork, Michele Sherry, Linda Piersig, Charles Holmberg, Robin Hansell, Mary Morella, Megan McCartin, Tim Kurek, Ed McKenna, Lisa Neal, Bernadette Berardinelli, Anthony DiPrinzo, Mark Manjardi, Robin Smith, Debra Flamer, Deborah O'Dell, Paula Meszaros, Chanel Pyatt, Cynthia Pratt and George Frey.

1 comment:

  1. Carl, you ought to look into the idiotic idea being floated to replace the court reporters with an automated system that records testimony. No idea who cooked it up, but they obviously never spent a day in court.