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  • Marc Greenberg

Murder Case Puts Vulnerability Of Court Records On Display

What if, while sitting on death row, you had a chance to overturn your conviction by arguing the jury was not properly instructed, but the exact wording of those instructions had been lost to time? That’s what happened to Tawuan Townes, whose case was refused by the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 29, after two different transcripts of his suit recorded a one-word difference in the jury instructions that could mean the difference between whether he lives or dies. The case highlights the huge impact that even small inconsistencies in a court transcript can have, the imperfect nature of transcriptions and audio recordings, and the inconsistent standards for maintaining such records across different states. In a three-page statement accompanying the denial of certiorari in the Townes case, Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressed concern over the inconsistencies in the record, especially since an audio recording of the jury instructions had apparently been.....MORE

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