All I can say is . . . . . . . wow!  Makes us ALL look REEEEAAAALLLLY BAAAAAAD!!!  :(


From the San Francisco Examiner:


AWOL court reporter delays German tourist murder case in San Francisco

German tourist Mechthild Schröer was fatally shot Aug. 8, 2010, near Union Square. Prosecutors say she was caught in gang crossfire. (Courtesy photo)

A murder trial stemming from the 2010 slaying of a German tourist has been delayed after a contract court reporter failed to deliver a grand jury transcript and stopped returning lawyers’ phone calls.

Although observers do not expect this hiccup to derail the case, defense attorneys promptly demanded that the charges against their six clients be dismissed.

But the development troubles the District Attorney’s Office, which has made prosecution of the case a top priority.

The office began outsourcing court reporting last year in response to court system budget cuts. The underfunded system could face even more cuts amid continued uncertainty over state finances.

Prosecutor Eric Fleming said the court reporter should have finished transcribing his shorthand notes “at least two weeks ago.” State law requires a completed transcript within 10 days of the Sept. 27 indictment, although reporters can seek up to 20 more days. Final transcripts can run thousands of pages.

Fleming said health issues apparently prevented the reporter from finishing the transcripts. The reporter hasn’t returned calls and emails from either side’s lawyers, and no one knows when the transcripts will be done.

“I don’t believe that this will negatively affect the case, other than delay it a short time,” District Attorney’s Office spokesman Omid Talai said.

Yet defense attorneys say their clients’ rights to a speedy trial are being violated, and will ask Judge Anne-Christine Massullo to dismiss the indictments next Monday. And after reasserting their client’s 60-day trial rights, a jury trial was set for Dec. 16. Massullo suggested there is no legal basis to dismiss the indictments for this reason.

On Sept. 27, a secret grand jury indicted Phillip Stewart, Delvon Scott, Willie Eason, Marcus Blueford and Raheem Jackson on murder and gang charges in the shooting of 50-year-old Mechthild Schröer. Gethsemane Pita was charged as an accessory to murder.

Schröer was struck by a bullet Aug. 8, 2010, while walking with her husband near Union Square. Prosecutors say the suspects were rival gang members shooting at each other outside a crowded party.

One month later, budget cuts forced San Francisco Superior Court to stop paying court reporters to cover grand jury proceedings, spokeswoman Ann Donlan said. Reporters are now hired by the District Attorney’s Office.

Defense attorney Rebecca Young, who represents Scott, questioned whether it is proper for prosecutors to hire their own court reporter. However, Talai said, the program isn’t unique to San Francisco and poses no conflict.

“This is practice for DAs offices up and down the state,” he said.

Talai said the court reporter in question is state-certified and previously worked for the court for years. But outside court, lawyers called this development unique.

“I’ve never encountered anything like this before,” said attorney George Borges, who represents Blueford.

Pita’s attorney Robert Amparán said the court reporter should have sought additional time or notified a colleague of his problem — especially in a case of this magnitude. “This is ridiculous, it’s so basic,” Amparán said, adding that his client was being kept in custody “with no proof, basically.”

Talai said the court reporter’s recent health issues “made him unable” to request additional time. He would not elaborate on the nature of the problem.

“We are working hard on our end to get the transcripts,” Talai said.

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I can't believe someone admits on a professional forum that they even drank at lunch let alone went back to work in that condition and that the record could have suffered.  Just wow.  

I am not talking about you but the reporter who replied after you admitting she did drink too much and was buzzed while on the record.  

I think something done in 1984 at a young age is rather insignificant now, and criticism is rather moot.

I disagree.

I agree, Kelli: glad worthless reporters.  I just wish the really good ones didn't work for agencies that have harmed this profession, but whadayagonnado.  It would be nice if all transcripts done by reporters for these contracting agencies were crap--but not the case.  Maybe all the transcripts done ER/DAR are crap?  Nope.  Bummer.

Kelli, TIA is a mini stroke.

Oh, okay.  Sorry to hear you get those.  That's horrible, especially if you don't have medication to control it.

Yes, it does.  And this isn't an isolated incident.  I'm grateful that it's rare, but I do read stories about this.  It tarnishes the entire industry and there's no recovery.  However, this can be great fuel to the fire for mandatory certification.  I wonder if the reporter is certified?  Anyway, in short, I don't get it.  It hurts us all.

This is a California case, and ALL California reporters must be certified.


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