|Court reporters shut down magistrate’s courts|
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Sep 28, 2013
Stenographers at the South Street Magistrates’ Court Complex shut down operations at the courts yesterday.
Privately contracted court reporters, who work under consultant Ludell Theophilus, reportedly refused to work over compensation issues.
Theophilus' contract as a consultant for the unit and supervisor to private reporters employed by her company L.E.T. Court Reporting Services and the reporters employed with the public service expires in 2014.
Back in 2004, a report by the Court Reporting Review Committee, which was commissioned by the Office of the Attorney General, found "perennial problems with the production of transcripts".
Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson also spoke of plans to establish a career path for the unit – another recommendation in the 2004 report – in the next budget. Today, there are 32 reporters in New Providence; 18 of them work for Theophilus and 14 are employed by the public service. Of the six reporters in Grand Bahama, half of them are contracted workers. The committee found that the unit has a "number of anomalies and management problems". It also found that there is little in-house training. Court reporting was first introduced to The Bahamas in 1989 by Czerenda Court Reporting Service (CCRS), which was owned by American Randal Czerenda. CCRS continued to provide the service until 1999 when the contract was awarded to Theophilus.
The 2004 report suggested that the government should take over management of the unit and end the dual system which fostered tensions between the contracted workers and their counterparts in the public service. The report found that the contracted reporters are able to negotiate a better salary than that offered by the public service.
Calls to Theophilus were not returned up to press time.