Court Reporter Benefits Become Part of Aftermath of Baltimore Police Officers’ Case
A few weeks ago, the entire country watched in horror as Baltimore was torn apart at the seams after yet another controversial confrontation between police officers and a suspect. Another death occurred that enraged those in the local community, and the outrage spread far and wide. Sadly, we have seen these unfortunate situations play out several times over the past year, from Ferguson, Missouri to New York City to Baltimore. Regardless of how anyone feels about these situations, the bottom line is that people have lost their livelihoods, their freedom and in some cases their lives.
After suspect Freddie Gray was killed somehow while he was in the custody of police and the riots in protest broke out, six members of the police force in Baltimore were charged with crimes of varying degrees of severity. The most serious charge faced by an officer is for second-degree murder. Clearly, there is a lot at stake with this process. Not only are the police officers accused of serious crimes that could carry significant penalties, but the eyes of the community and the rest of the country will be on this situation as it moves forward.
Defendants File Motion
Prior to testimony being given to the grand jury in furtherance of the case, the defendants have filed a motion with the court. That motion requests that the court appoint a court reporter to transcribe the proceedings. This transcript, according to the motion, should include the testimony given by witnesses as well as any comments and instructions given by the prosecuting attorney. If a court reporter is not approved for the grand jury, the defendants have requested that the proceeding be recorded electronically.
The reason for this motion, as stated in the document, is the allegation by the defense that investigators misidentified certain facts and applicable law. As such, a transcript of the grand jury proceeding should be available so that those investigators can be properly cross-examined when or if that time comes. In essence, the motion calls for a protection of due process. The court has not yet ruled on the motion, but a decision is expected soon.
Court Reporters and the Integrity of the Record
This is clearly another example where the assistance of court reporters is seen as invaluable. Court reporters may not be noticeable to many who are paying attention to legal proceedings, as they tend to sit in relative silence and type what is being said. There have been countless instances in the past where decisions in cases have been influenced by examining the existing records of those cases. This could be another one of those situations.