Supreme Court won’t hear former court reporter’s appeal
DENVER ” The Colorado Supreme Court said Monday it would not hear an appeal from a former court reporter cited for contempt after refusing to finish transcribing 10 criminal cases.
The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in December that Barnes had to finish the transcripts or face penalties for contempt of court because she was an “essential” part of ensuring the proceedings were fair.
Barnes, who had stopped working on the transcripts in August 2004, had said she had no legal obligation to finish the work. She also said her treatment for breast cancer, including a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, affected her memory and her ability to do the work.
The appeals court also rejected her argument that a court order to complete the transcripts amounted to slavery.
Without explanation, the high court declined to take up Valeri Barnes’ case in a 4-2 vote, with new Justice Allison Eid not participating.
In late November, a judge ruled that the convictions of the 10 people whose cases were at stake would stand. Transcripts in eight cases were either complete or complete enough to allow the Court of Appeals to consider the cases, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Anthony Vollack said.
He said transcripts in the other two cases should be complete within a year. He had ruled that while defendants have a right to a speedy trial, there is no guarantee of a speedy appeal.
The defendants were convicted in Arapahoe County District Court from 1999 to 2002 on charges including sexual assault and attempted murder. The Court of Appeals in September 2003 sent the cases back to the district court because transcripts were missing or incomplete.
Barnes, who went to work as a clerk in federal court in Denver, helped other court workers complete the transcripts, but she told officials in August 2004 that she would no longer cooperate.
Other court reporters had trouble working with her notes because she used an unusual form of shorthand, District Attorney Carol Chambers has said.
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