To the Editor: As a freelance stenographer covering depositions before trial in Vermont, when the pandemic hit, there was a bit of a scramble to jack up my hardware and start educating my attorney clients on the world of Zoom depositions. It was important to be able keep the workflow going safely and remotely. I told them to trust me; it would work. They did and it did. Since the shutdown I've covered hundreds of depositions remotely and safely without skipping a beat.
Around 30 years ago, Vermont district and criminal courts switched over to digital recording to keep the courtroom record. No human stenographer preserving the record in the courtroom anymore. Many of my stenographer colleagues across the country in other states still work in courtrooms and have not been replaced by subpar recording equipment. Human stenographers working the courtroom are the gold standard. And guess what? When the pandemic hit, courtrooms with these stenographers were able to rise to the occasion and help keep court calendars moving by working virtually and keeping all participants safe.
Why hasn't Vermont been able to get trials moving again like many other states have including Florida, Tennessee, Arizona, Washington, D.C., to name a few? Because the recording equipment is located inside the courtroom. Maybe it's time for Vermont to put human stenographers, the gold standard in making the record, back in the courtroom. We are agile and smart. We can accomplish our job in person or remotely if need be. Vermonters deserve their constitutional right to trial without delay. Stenographers have been instrumental in upholding that right during COVID across the country. They could be the integral missing piece affording Vermonters access to timely justice making the record while keeping all parties safe opening up trials in Vermont once more.