Independent Observers: Reporting the Facts

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11Dec2013

Independent Observers: Reporting the Facts

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globeIt takes constant vigilance to ensure the continued operation of democratic institutions. They don’t just happen on their own.

Over the past two centuries, we have evolved a number of procedures and institutions to improve the fairness of the electoral process. True, things are not perfect, as the last presidential election illustrates. But arguing about dimpled and hanging chads is a far cry better than the violence that marks election day in many countries. And we’ve never had a president claim, as Saddam Hussein did last October, that he received 100% of the vote, up from 99.96% in the previous election.

To help countries with less experience in establishing democratic institutions, the United States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United Nations and private institutions send observers to report on the fairness of elections.

The observers are not there to see that any particular party wins. In fact, the electorate may end up, as happens far too often, choosing a candidate who winds up bankrupting the national treasury while filling his private Swiss accounts. But, regardless the outcome of any particular plebiscite, free and open democratic processes will, in the long run, produce the best overall result for the citizens of that country.

There is another democratic institution that also requires constant monitoring – the justice system. That is where court reporters come in. Sure, we need the technical proficiency to accurately note down 225 words per minute for hours on end. But more importantly, we are there as the impartial observer.

Reporters operate under one overriding viewpoint – a belief that the civil justice system is an excellent, though not perfect, method of resolving disputes. Regardless who schedules a deposition, our job is simply to observe and report accurately and completely for both sides. To borrow from the Fox News slogan, “We report, the judge decides.”

That same standard applies to this newsletter. We always try to cover topics that will be of interest to litigating attorneys and their staff. Not surprisingly, newsworthy issues dealing with litigation generally have two sides.

So what is our opinion on some of these topics we’ve covered? Are we for or against capping med/mal damages, allowing the citation of unpublished opinions or limiting punitive damages? Actually, we will take option C:  None of the Above. We are simply in favor of a vigorous civil litigation system as a means of resolving disputes.

Judges, legislatures, commissions and agencies will continually modify the rules to meet perceived needs. We will continue to provide the independent record of exactly what occurred, whatever the current regulations.

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