Montgomery County Court stenographer Ginny Womelsdorf took center stage at Bill Cosby’s high-profile sexual assault trial when all eyes, and ears, in the courtroom were drawn to her as she had to recite the testimony of three trial witnesses from whom jurors wanted to hear again.
Womelsdorf had the tedious task of transcribing the previous testimony. Then the judge and lawyers informed her as to the passages that were to be read to the jurors. One of the testimonies included that of Cosby’s alleged accuser, the main witness in the case. Talk about a stressful situation with so many eyes watching you on a national scale.
But Womelsdorf, who has been assigned to the courtroom of Judge Steven T. O’Neill, who is presiding over the Cosby trial, stepped to the plate and completed the task with clarity, professionalism and composure. She read more than 30 minutes during one recitation and nearly an hour during another, occasionally taking a sip of water to clear a scratchy throat. Despite one brief coughing spell, Womelsdorf plowed forward, never skipping a beat.
O’Neill told jurors Womelsdorf “is the best in this country as far as I’m concerned.”
When @MontcoCourtNews tweeted about Womelsdorf’s performance under pressure, social media users responded kindly.
“Mad props to her!” one said. Another said, “Get that lady a parafin wax hand dip and some Ludens stat!”
I have always said 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.
Ginny deserves some recognition for a job well done during an extremely intense situation at the highest-profile case that ever played out in Montgomery County. Bravo, Ginny!