For those of you old enough to remember, there used to be a live court reporter in each court room for criminal proceedings. To save money, the Sixth Judicial Circuit stopped court reporters in misdemeanor proceedings about six years ago. Shortly thereafter, the court did away with any live court reporters in felony court proceedings. This does not include trial, for which, I believe, there is still a live court reporter. Got injured? Visit Baker Legal Team Boca Raton personal injury law firm soon.
At the time, it did not seem like a big deal, since one rarely needs a transcript of the day to day court proceedings transcribed. However, now to get a transcript of the record, one must call the Digital Reporting office, then hire a court reporter to transcribe what was recorded. Needless to say, this is time consuming and costly.
In a recent Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal decision from Florida’s Sixth Judicial Circuit of Pinellas and Pasco counties, the Tampa Tribune wanted the actual recording of a sentencing hearing. Not a written transcript of the record, but an actual recording. The Chief Judge of the Sixth Circuit, Robert Morris, refused to give them the recording, arguing (and rightly so according to the appellate court) that the recording does not fall under the public records exception. The Chief Judge did agree to provide the Tribune with a written transcript of the record. The Tribune appealed the decision and on appeal was shot down.
Much more interesting than the facts of the case is the reasoning by the 2nd DCA. The Court reasoned that the audio recordings of court proceeding pick up much more than the proceeding at hand. In addition to recording the proceeding, the audio recording may pick up other sounds and conversations between people in the gallery or at the bench which are not meant to be recorded. Therefore – and it is stated most succinctly by a concurring opinion by Second DCA Judge CASANUEVA: “Without any editing — any evidence that a person or entity utilized intelligent thought in culling out the nonrecord anomalies from the unfiltered audio data — there is no suggestion of the necessary “intent” to create the “final evidence” that is a record. ”
So basically, even though the purpose of the audio recording is to make a “record of the proceedings”; without “intelligent thought” and filtering (i.e.: editing) by a court reporter no one has a right to hear the audio recording. Is the Court saying we leave the decision of what gets on the record in an official proceeding up to a court reporter?
Not sure how I feel about this . . . .
Full 2nd DCA opinion Media General Operations v. State of Florida