Court Reporters get New Steno Machines


Court reporters will now be able to record court proceedings more efficiently, as the Ministry of Justice has procured 50 new stenograph machines at a cost of $23 million.
The newly acquired equipment, paid for by the Ministry of Finance, should relieve reporters whose work output was gravely affected on account of the out-of-commission machines they had to work with.
Attorney-General Senator A.J. Nicholson, speaking at ceremony held at his Oxford Road office this morning (Dec.14) to officially hand over the machines to the Supreme Court, expressed his confidence that the equipment would be of tremendous help to the court reports and enhance the judicial process.
Senator Nicholson said that the machines were welcome and should ease the lengthy delays that had become associated with the court reporting process. “We know that we have to endure a lot of flak because sometimes the work is not completed in a timely fashion,” he noted.
The stenograph machines are computer-aided devices. The machine can be connected directly to a computer, which reads the information from the court-reporting transcript and translates it to English language. In his address, Chief Justice, Lensley Wolfe, echoed Senator Nicholson’s appreciative sentiments for the equipment. “I am burdened daily, [with complaints of] not enough machines, machines not working. Well, with 50 new machines, those complaints ought to disappear for a long while,” the Chief Justice said.
Mr. Wolfe noted further, that the provision of the equipment was demonstrative of the resolve of the government, the Minister of Justice and the Permanent Secretary in the Justice Ministry in ensuring that the nation’s judiciary was properly equipped.
With regard to the safekeeping of the machines, the Chief Justice advised that as the person made accountable for the equipment, he had taken relevant steps in safeguarding them from theft or loss. “I intend to establish a room for storing them and the only persons who will have access to that room is the Senior Court Reporter and myself. People will have to sign for machines when they are going to court and sign them back in after returning from court. We have a strict regime,” he explained.
The Chief Justice concluded by noting that, “we now look forward to a timely production of notes of evidence so that matters that are going to the Appeal Court can get there in a timely way and we won’t have any more complaints about the difficulty of getting transcripts.”
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer said the new equipment had given the court reporters a turnround. “The court reporters have been struggling and languishing if you will, in trying to do their jobs under trying circumstances. So, while we hand over the equipment, we would like to acknowledge and show our gratitude for their perseverance,” she stated.
There are 46 court reporters working within the judicial circuit, while an additional 24 are participating in a two-year training programme that began in September.
According to Mrs. Palmer, once the next batch of court reporters have completed their training, the Justice Ministry would extend court reporting procedures beyond the Supreme Court to the Resident Magistrates (RM) Courts.
“We are going to start dealing with the RM courts so that the magistrates will be less likely to be doing manual note-taking for the proceedings .thereby improving our efficiency in that regard,” she stated.

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