AG says court reporters sick-out had little impact
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Oct 03, 2013
Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson said yesterday a sick-out by court reporters this week had little impact on the justice system.
“The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal have not been affected by this and the Magistrate’s Court has continued to operate,” she said.
“I just want to point out that in other jurisdictions around the world...court reporters don’t sit in those courts.
“I want to thank the magistrates for sitting and continuing to serve the public well.”
Many stenographers refused to report to work over various issues, including payment issues and the lack of a career path.
Speaking generally about ongoing concerns, Maynard-Gibson said late court transcripts are causing a “pain” and inefficiencies in the court system.
“Regrettably, transcripts are routinely not being delivered on time, matters are adjourned causing several things to happen, including litigants to experience pain, if I can put it that way,” she said.
“The criminal courts are experiencing inefficiency and high costs and the civil courts are also causing our country to have a very bad rating in terms of efficiency.
“We’re at number 87 on the efficiency rating. That’s not satisfactory, and we are doing everything that we can to increase that rating.”
Maynard-Gibson said magistrates took notes during their proceedings when stenographers were absent.
“That’s what happens in other jurisdictions,” she said.
She said the country will always need court reporters.
“I think the question will be which court will have court reporters,” she said.
“Remember, a court-reporter is a highly specialized skill, and I point to other jurisdictions where they choose very carefully where that very rare commodity and highly specialized commodity is utilized.”
Maynard-Gibson also noted that the government is looking at establishing one court reporting entity.
“Most of the people who advocate it believe that we will see greater efficiencies,” she said. “In fact, I think we will see immediate efficiency if we organize the unit as one unit as opposed to two separate entities in the unit.”
Ludell Eneas-Theophilus, the principal in LET Consultancy, for whom 22 of 40 stenographers work, told The Guardian that she was not to blame for the pay issues.
Nineteen of those reporters work in New Providence and the other three work in Grand Bahama. According to Theophilus, the stenographers in Grand Bahama reported to work.
Theophilus said according to the terms of her contract, her reporters are supposed to be paid on the same day as civil servants.
However, she said since June she has not been paid on time, resulting in a delay in payment of her workers.
Maynard-Gibson would not comment on a meeting she had with Theophilus.
“I just simply repeat that we are insisting that transcripts be delivered on time so that litigants before the courts can have their matters disposed of quickly,” she said.
The Guardian understands that some court reporters also did not report to work yesterday.