Pubdate: Wed, 18 Apr 2012
Source: North Bay Nugget (CN ON)
Copyright: 2012 Sun Media
Author: John R. Hunt


Court reporting can be interesting and sometimes fun. I did it for 
nearly 30 years. I used to clean up the stories lawyers and police 
told in the men's washroom and take them home for my wife.

It can also be stressful. Lawyers and judges can be nasty if you make 
a mistake. If some lowlife has the same name, or similar one, as some 
highly respected citizen who lives in the same area you must remember 
to make it very clear that one is not the other. The reporter may 
also be threatened by thugs who promised to beat him or her or by the 
influential resident who promised to speak to the bosses and have you fired.

As a result, court reporters have to become mentally tough. It is not easy.

Like the police, social workers and all of the others who strive to 
repair human wreckage, court reporters cannot allow themselves to 
become emotionally involved. They must report the facts, but too much 
sympathy can cause insomnia or nervous breakdowns.

Once in a while there is a story that is bound to interest, upset or 
outrage readers and probably have some impact upon the reporter who 
had to listen to the evidence and sort out the essential facts.

Maria Calabrese reported such a case recently. A hockey player worked 
his way is through the minors and got a toehold in the NHL. He was in 
sight of big money and fame when he was injured in a motor vehicle accident.

He became hooked on painkillers, became involved in the drug scene 
and has managed to make a horrible mess of his life. He is still 
before the courts so we cannot be more specific.

I remember when drug cases were rare and I, like countless others, 
believed that interdiction was the only fitting response. Some 40 
years later, I hear the same knee-jerk responses. More police, more 
laws, bigger prisons and a complete lack of new ideas.

Now, anyone who dares suggest change is subjected to vicious attacks 
by a Neanderthal segment of the media and a variety of vested 
interests who all make money out of the failed war on drugs.

If nothing else, new ideas and a very serious debate are long overdue.
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