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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 08:02 AM
Original message
Obit of Siegelman trial court reporter:
Until a transcript of the trial is available, Don Siegelman's appeal is stymied.
The reason given by the Bush appointed judge Mark Fuller?
Death of court reporter.
And there's just no way around this?

Is it :tinfoilhat: time?

From The Legal Schnauzer blog:
We posted a few weeks back about the transcript and the late Jimmy Dickens, who was the court reporter for the Siegelman case.

When I wrote this post, I must confess that the paranoid, conspiracy-minded part of me was in overdrive. But at the last minute, I toned the post down and held off on writing what I really was thinking.

Since then, I've discovered--from reading comments on a number of blogs-- that quite a few folks are thinking the same thing I was thinking. Most recently I noticed this on a post and comments at the always interesting firedoglake.

Here is what folks are asking: What caused the death of Jimmy Dickens? Did he die of natural causes?

DICKENS, Sr., James Raymond, 59, a resident of Montgomery, Alabama, died Friday, August 24, 2007. Funeral services will be held on Sunday, August 26, 2007 at 2:00 P.M. from Frazer United Methodist Church with Dr. John Ed Mathison officiating. Burial will follow in Alabama Heritage Cemetery. Mr. Dickens served in the United States AirForce from 1968 until 1972. He was a Court Reporter for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. He is survived by his wife, Pamela Duncan Dickens; three sons, Dr. Frank Eric Dickens (Peggy), Joel Scott Dickens (Jane), James Raymond Dickens, Jr. (Becky); six grandchildren, Michael James Dickens, Hayden Scott Dickens, Caroline Chappell Dickens, Sean Patrick Dickens, Elizabeth Ann Dickens, and Katherine Elizabeth Dickens; two brothers, Danny Dickens (Vicki) and Bob Dickens (Jerri). Visitation will beheld Sunday, August 26, 2007,from 1:00 P.M. until 2:00 P.M. at the church.
Funeral Home: GREENWOOD & SERENITYPublication Date: 08/26/2007 /
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 08:08 AM
Response to Original message
1. Well.. with the break-ins, the house fires and the "near-miss"
auto accidents, I certainly think that it would be worth at least asking the questions...
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electropop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 11:56 AM
Response to Original message
2. Did Bushco kill him?
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formercia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 12:37 PM
Response to Original message
3. Altered transcript of the trial
pretty hard to prove now that the reporter is gone and the transcript hasn't been released yet.

I guess, now we get the 'official' version.
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pacalo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 03:22 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. I agree with you & annabanana.
The break-ins, the house fires, the "near-miss" auto accidents, & the Alabama "60 Minutes" blackout certainly support the notion that something unseemly happened to this reporter. Altering the transcript is a possibility, or perhaps it was learned by the cabal that the reporter had plans of accommodating the Siegelman defense with a transcript. This case shows the need for each side to employ their own court reporters -- costly, but vital in a lawless setting.
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puebloknot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 04:16 PM
Response to Reply #3
8. I work in the court reporting arena, training people to do computerized-editing...
Edited on Wed Feb-27-08 04:20 PM by puebloknot
Edited for typo in header!

...of court transcripts. Unless someone has destroyed evidence, there is a stenographic record, and likely an audio record, of what took place.

Steno notes are run through software and translated to English, but the translation is far from perfect, and requires that either the court reporter, or an editor, go over the transcript and clean it up. I and many others can read the stenographic record. I have personally created transcripts from the steno notes of deceased reporters.

Sometimes, there is also a video record of a proceeding.

We *always* get the *official version" of any transcript. Between the steno recording, and the editing that follows, there's ample opportunity to "tweak" a transcript. Fortunately, the process is usually an honest one, although flawed in that court reporters do *not* get down every word when recording a hearing, and they rely on their steno notes along with audio/video to produce the transcript. Right there, there's room for "mischief."

If there is malice aforethought, a judge can make it impossible for anyone to get to the "work product" of the court reporter, and can declare the official version sacrosanct.

I'm waiting with bated breath to see if there will be a challenge to the official story, and a demand for the court reporter's auxiliary record, in the form of steno notes and video or audio recordings. Many attorneys are not aware that an audio recording is quietly being made as backup to the reporter's steno record. In cases where there's been a demand for the audio record, the court reporter has claimed it is not the official record, is only a tool for creating the final transcript, and has gotten by with refusal to give up the audio record.

The court reporting community stands behind the concept of not being required to release audio records, in large part out of fear of seeing the stenographic recording method threatened-- and therefore, their jobs. There is reasonable concern for keeping the human being involved in the process, rather than merely turning on a tape recorder because there have been instances of total failure of the recording devices. But I've always said that justice comes first, and the court reporter's interest second!

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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-28-08 04:17 AM
Response to Reply #8
13. You're absolutely right.
I was a court reporter for nearly 20 years, until I ran off screaming from the stress. I started before we used computers, and I got into using a computer. The computer cannot do all the work, just like the tape recorder can't replace the person either.

I did not usually make an audio tape. It really ticks me off that the judges and lawyers would like to remove the court reporter and his/her steno machine from the process, and they think the tape will hear everything perfectly. It won't. A person is needed to interrupt lawyers and witnesses who mumble, overlap each other, talk too fast, and so forth, and stop them and make them clarify their answers.

I made sure that when I was a court reporter, I GOT EVERY WORD IN THE TRANSCRIPT. That's why I stopped people and made them stop mumbling and repeat what they said. I considered that my professional obligation, to protect the record as an unbiased officer of the court.

And I also hate lawyers that think that court reporters charge too much. I knew one cheap bastard who was a rich plaintiffs' lawyer. I took his medical depositions for a year, bad backs and stuff like that. He said I was the only reporter in town who could spell all that medical stuff and do it right--I knew the difference between spondylolysis, sponylolisthesis and spondylosis, for example.

I have a BA in biology and a Juris Doctor I earned at night school while working.

However, when I charged him $6 a page instead of $5 a page, he went ballistic and called me up and yelled at me on my answering machine. I called his secretary back and told her he was a cheap bastard and I wouldn't be taking his business anymore.

I also found out that court reporters don't like really educated court reporters. I got a B.A. in biology and a Juris Doctor, and the National Shorthand Reporters Association wouldn't let me put "B.A., J.D." after my name in the national directory. I went round and round with them about that. I am convinced they are glorified secretaries and don't really want their members to go to college and become truly educated and competent. They couldn't understand how those two degrees would make me a better court reporter. I argued that those two degrees were the most valuable degrees a court reporter could have. They didn't get it. They were into mediocrity. Sigh........

Fuck 'em if they don't like educated people in their ranks, doing their best to make a perfect record.

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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 01:57 PM
Response to Original message
4. That's a year and two months. Should have taken 30 days. Was he sick?
Was he sick before the trial and that is why the RepubliCONs wanted him?
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rusty quoin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 02:55 PM
Response to Original message
5. Remember this?
Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a business partner were indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, charged with five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy in their purchase of a fleet of Florida gambling boats from a businessman who was later killed in a gangland-style hit.

I think it's how they operate. They're like the mafia.

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formercia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 03:48 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Remember the scene from the Godfather
Edited on Wed Feb-27-08 03:52 PM by formercia
when Don Corleone gets his Knight of Malta cross? Poppy has one too and so does his brother. I bet there's a few more Bushes that have them too. JEB for one.

About the only difference is the Italians wear Armani and the Bushes wear pin strpes.
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L. Coyote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 04:45 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. or they are!
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lifesbeautifulmagic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 08:51 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Coyote, this is a cut and paste of something you posted earlier
"In 1999, Don Siegelman, the Democratic governor of Alabama, proposed a lottery that would have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into public schools and even provided free college education for most Alabama high school graduates.

Reed, rallying religious conservatives, set out to try to defeat it ... quickly raised $1.15 million .... money came from Norquist's group, Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist ... got the funds from an Indian gaming tribe ...At the time Reed raised the money, he was working for Abramoff ... and Abramoff represented the Mississippi tribe.

Siegelman ..."'I don't know how they can sleep at night taking money from the Indian casinos to deny Alabama schoolchildren....""

All the man wanted to do was fund education - I cannot tell you how utterly despicable I find these people.
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burythehatchet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 09:01 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. welcome to DU brandnewlaptop
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merh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 09:21 PM
Response to Original message
12. .

On Oct. 28, 2005 the Montgomery Chapter sponsored a reception to honor the new federal law clerks. The reception was held at the Frank M. Johnson Federal Courthouse in Montgomery, Ala.

left to right, front row: Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama; Court Reporter Jimmy Dickens; Judge Edward E. Carnes, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; Glory McLaughlin (District Court Law Clerk), Rachel Lary, Law Clerk for Judge Joel F. Dubina; Julie Reed, law clerk for Judge Edward E. Carnes; Wes Gilchrist, law clerk for Judge Edward E. Carnes; and Emily Marks, Montgomery Chapter president. Back Row: Judge Joel F. Dubina, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; Kristin Henson, law clerk for Judge Edward E. Carnes; and Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles S. Coody, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.

Published Tuesday, January 8, 2008
No good reason for Siegelman's appeal to languish
Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman shouldn't have to wait in prison for months and months until a court finally hears his appeal.


The death in August of Jimmy Dickens, the court reporter who recorded the trial, has led to a series of delays in completing the transcript for the case.

Siegelman has asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to release him on bond while he awaits a final decision on the appeal. But the lengthy transcript from his two-month-long trial has to be available before the appeals process begins.

The new court reporter initially was granted an extension until Dec. 31. When she said she couldn't do the work in time, U.S. Circuit Judge R. Lanier Anderson on Friday extended the deadline to March 31.

A reasonable delay in the transcript as a result of Dickens' death could be expected, but this is ridiculous.

As University of Alabama political scientist William Stewart observed in November, every day that Siegelman is in jail when the appellate court might rule that he shouldn't be, "it's one more day of suffering."

Fuller has failed to comply with the canon of judicial conduct that requires a judge to promptly dispose of business before his court. And the Siegelman case is a testament to the truth of the old axiom that justice delayed is justice denied.
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