Lawyers Journal

Take online survey about quality of Superior Court civil session transcripts

The Massachusetts Bar Association's Judicial Administration Section Council, in conjunction with the Office of Transcription Services (OTS), invites you, as a member of the bar, to participate in a survey to assess the quality and delivery of transcripts in the Superior Court's civil sessions.

The section council and the OTS are seeking input from MBA members concerning their collective experience with the Jefferson Audio Video Systems (JAVS), the digital recording system currently installed in the Superior Court civil sessions. The purpose of this survey is to provide greater insight to the bench and the bar concerning the availability, delivery and accuracy of the transcripts of hearings, trials and other proceedings in the civil sessions.

The OTS was established in 2005 to implement recommendations from the Supreme Judicial Court's Working Group on Trial Transcripts (the "Green Report"), and OTS's goal remains to improve delivery and quality of transcripts.

In 2006, the Administrative Office of the Trial Court began replacing cassette recording systems with the JAVS in all courts, with the exception of the Superior Court. The JAVS digital recorders resemble a desktop computer with an attendant keyboard and monitor. Microphones are placed throughout the courtroom and the digital recorders are capable of playing back recordings, storing the audio and producing a CD copy of recorded proceedings.

Sidebar conversations are recorded; however, private conversations at counsel table can be muted by pressing the button at the base of the microphone. Backup CDs are regularly created and are in the custody of the respective clerk's office. Duplicate CDs are available via court-allowed motion submitted to the respective clerk's office at the rate of $50.50 per CD.

In 2008, the OTS created a Uniform Transcript Format (UTF), approved and promulgated by the chief justice for administration and management. The UTF provided standards for all transcripts produced by the Trial Court requiring 6½ inch margins, 25 lines of text per page and a 12 point font size. The transcripts must include a title page with case name, docket number, judge and counsel names and the dates of the proceeding. A certification page, word index and CD copy of the PDF transcript are provided with the transcript.

Attorneys can inform OTS of the quality of a transcript, by completing the Transcript Assessment Forms at www.mass.gov/courts/admin/ots. In 2008, the OTS also published a new Approved Court Transcriber list, which establishes the minimum qualifications for transcribers and imposes time standards for approved transcribers.

In 2009, as a result of fiscal concerns, 56 JAVS recorders were installed in the Superior Court civil sessions in all counties. OTS processes requests for a transcript from these digitally recorded sessions. To request transcripts from these civil courtrooms, please use OTS's Transcript Order Form available at www.mass.gov/courts/admin/ots.

The data collected from this survey will assist the Administrative Office of the Trial Court and OTS in gathering information on the operation of digital recorders and the quality and timeliness of transcripts.

Please take a few minutes to fill out this short, simple survey, which can be found at link address before July 15. You can also access the survey through the MBA website in e-Journal at www.massbar.org/publications/e-journal.

©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association