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  • Marc Greenberg

19-Year Delay - Georgia's Top Court Demands Changes

Van Pelt said one cause for delay in the early years was the death of the court reporter who followed Owens' original trial. Lawyers and judges need a transcript of a case before proceeding on an appeal. Today, court reporters record the trial and save their notes on a hard drive.But 20 years ago, the court reporter typed out his notes on paper. Because cases can last longer than a week, the notes can be hundreds of pages high. And reporters don't write out every word; they use shorthand. Different reporters use different shorthand styles, with different abbreviations. When this particular reporter died, the court had to find somebody trained in the same methods. That person could then read the stacks and write out the full transcript. There were several cases like this, Van Pelt said. The process took years. With its opinion Monday, the Supreme Court moved Owens' case back to Walker County Superior Court, where she will receive a new sentence for voluntary manslaughter. While her felony murder charge carried a life sentence, she cannot be confined for more than 20 years for.....MORE

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