Court Stenographer Spends Second Night in Durham Jail
Posted January 28, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST
DURHAM — A Durham court stenographer spent another night in jail rather than produce transcripts she was hired to write during the Todd Boggess murder trial last year. Pat McMann-Byrd has been charged with contempt of court, among other things, and is incarcerated until she cooperates.
Some are wondering why the courts can't just get someone else to do the job. Those transcripts are needed for an appeal Boggess' attorneys are trying to put together. If the transcripts aren't available, the convicted murderer's death penalty could be put aside.
Durham District Attorney Jim Hardin says there are both practical and legal reasons why it must be McMann-Byrd who provides the transcripts. On the side of practicality, she was the court reporter for the entire 11 weeks of the trial and knows what materials are in the tapes. Legally, he says, court reporters are required to certify what happened in the courtroom. No other stenographer can substitute the certification.
This is the first time anyone involves remembers such a stand-off occurring between a stenographer and the Durham court system. McMann-Byrd is currently being held on $540,000 bond for refusing to produce the transcripts from the Boggess trial. She says she hasn't been paid for them and has physical injuries, incurred since the trial, that prevent her from preparing the documents. Charges against her include obstruction of justice, extortion, and embezzlement of state money. She could also face civil charges for failure to complete the transcript.
There are 169 trial tapes that have been brought to Durham from McMann-Byrd's home in Florida. Durham County deputies drove the 700 miles to her home when they took her into custody.
Hardin told WRAL-TV5'sMark Robertsthat McMann-Byrd will have to complete the job in jail, and that her own equipment will be brought into the jail.
Hardin says he has heard of a similar case.
Indications are that the court system is prepared to wait until McMann-Byrd complies with the orders of Judge Orlando Hudson -- to finish the transcripts while incarcerated. As of Thursday morning, the stenographer was still refusing to do so.