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Court reporters speaking up against proposed budget cuts

Posted May 29, 2013
Updated May 30, 2013

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— Veteran court reporter Jenny Carroll is one of 104 statewide.

“We are the voice in the courtroom of protecting the record,” she said. “We are guardians of the record.”

Court reporters have long been silent partners in the justice system, but they are speaking up in the hopes their voices will be heard by state lawmakers seeking to make cuts.

The Senate’s proposed budget would cut the number of court reporters in half and supplement the service with private contractors and audio recording devices, saving about $1 million.

But opponents are concerned about using electronic recording devices in the courtroom because transcripts can be riddled with inaccuracies. One transcript, for example, had 148 places where the sound was inaudible.

“Without the court reporter, we can't go forward,” Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said.

Attorneys believe poor transcripts could inhibit their ability to handle cases properly.

“In an extreme case, you're going to end up with a new trial,” defense attorney Mike Reece said. “It seems like an appealing short-term savings, but I think in the long term, it will cost a lot more.”

Willoughby said court reporters can read back testimony at any time, and they offer a level of quality that machines cannot.

“I think that's what we will miss if we move to a mechanical system,” he said, adding that private contractors won’t know the court system as well and may not be as professional as state employess.

Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover County, is co-chair of the Appropriations for Justice and Public Safety Committee. He’s also an attorney.

“I met with two of my local court reporters this morning and heard their concerns,” he said.

Goolsby says when it comes to the budget for next fiscal year, nothing is set in stone.

“The House is going to address it, we'll re-address it in conference back in the Senate, but we're happy to look into this,” he said.


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  • iamsiam1096 May 31, 2013

    sad thing is we need a budget, cuts need to be made everyone has agreed on that. There need to be cuts across the board, but it is hard to make any cuts when everyone screams don't cut mine, cut theirs! No progress will be made .... doesn't matter if you are dem or repub or independ. Nothing will be done for all the screaming and it comes from all sides.

  • Black HelicoptersNFood Insurance May 31, 2013

    Isn't it interesting to see every cut, regardless of where or what it is treated like it's the end of the world? It's not about cuts, it's about the fact that REPUBLICANS are making them.- yankee1

    Yeah, but god forbid a defense contractor have to take a day of furlough under Obama or you will be claiming the nation is defenseless against Canada!

  • xylem01 May 31, 2013

    So instead of doing what they said they were going to do....CREATE JOBS, they CUT JOBS! HAHAHAHAHAHAH

  • beachboater May 31, 2013

    The wealthy have a higher standard living. They must consume more to maintain that standard, they spend, and they will pay tax on their spending, in ADDITION to the income tax.

    I can control my spending, and I therefore can control to some degree the amount of tax I pay.

  • beachboater May 31, 2013

    Is there waste in state government? Of course there is. I don't think anyone can argue that. Do we need the court reporters? I honestly don't know. Are state employees overpaid? I'm sure all state employees would say yes.

    This talk about those nasty republicans trying to cut taxes is nothing but political hog wash. North Carolina has the highest tax rates in the southeast. We compare with the worst state budgets in the country. High taxes keep people and businesses out of N.C.

    But this is playing right into the liberal "progressive" folks in this state. They want us to continue into a welfare state. We have higher individual income taxes, we have higher business income taxes, we have higher gasoline taxes. What is appealing to business or the working taxpayer to make them want to come to N.C.??????? Not much.

    There are a huge number of tax cheats in this country / state. The proposed sales tax would make these tax cheats pay some amount of tax.

  • Rebelyell55 May 31, 2013

    Isn't it interesting that all cuts, end up as projected saving that don't materialize, but put tax dollars in the hand of private companies. In many cases, providing poor quality, later on end up costing more than the suppose saving.

  • yankee1 May 31, 2013

    Isn't it interesting to see every cut, regardless of where or what it is treated like it's the end of the world? It's not about cuts, it's about the fact that REPUBLICANS are making them. It wouldn't matter if the cut was removing fifteen garbage cans from the Capitol building, the crazies would still scream about it. Ironically, the biggest screamers, outside of those directly affected, are more than likely the same people who scream about taxes. In their world, if you still have checks in your check book it means you still have money. I'm willing to bet that many of them are beneficiaries of taxpayer money, pay little or no income tax themselves and have no property to pay taxes on either. Too bad we can't cut ignorance!

  • dirtydozen431 May 30, 2013

    Dont they get paid plus get paid for each transcript.

  • newtoncus May 30, 2013

    how about we get private contractors to replace those legislators?

  • veyor May 30, 2013

    "Private contractors..may not be as professional as state employees" Every day provides something hilarious.