Reporting the Michael Jackson Trial – Part One


Reporting the Michael Jackson Trial – Part One

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From the National Court Reporters Association

NCRA has been in touch with the official court reporters who are covering the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor. They are Mavis Theodorou and Patricia McNeal, official reporters for the Los Angeles Superior Court. They have agreed to keep us posted on the news that court reporters want to know about the case.

Here’s what we’ve heard so far.

September 23, 2011

The attorneys and court developed a lengthy questionnaire that was distributed to prospective jurors on September 8 and 9, and today those who were not excused are returning to continue with the voir dire process. The trial will actually commence with opening statements and the evidentiary portion next Tuesday, 9/27.

The courtroom has been wired for world-wide coverage, and our stomachs have butterflies. With the advance of technology, our hopes for having multiple copy orders have disappeared. The news agencies have two captioners — one on the east coast, one on the west coast — and each news agency has a slew of affiliates with whom they’re sharing their coverage.

We’ve been in touch with a “repository” service,, that for a nominal fee will upload our transcripts into their server and distribute at our direction in ASCII format, pdf, condensed, and include a word index. We will forward to them our ASCII files and they’ll handle the rest. We’re elated about working with them. Until then, we’ve had some interesting motions on the case and we’re gearing up for the trial!

We anticipate the trial will continue for 40 to 45 days, and during that time, Patricia and I will switch mornings and afternoons. Neither of us uses a scopist nor a proofreader, but we’ve found that switching at half-day has always provided us sufficient time to edit and proofread. We provide daily transcripts and may use the condensed versions for the attorneys.
We may bring our respective pillows and spend a night or two in the courtroom, ordering out for pizza and tacos. We plan to have a website posted for the public to purchase and obtain transcripts.

As for brief forms, yes, there will be many. Of course, being “old-school,” I tend to writing everything out, but I’ve found that Propofol will be the main drug mentioned during this trial and I’ve settled on p-ao-p, and m-ao-ei-d for Midazolam.

Our respective families are very supportive and quite excited about our involvement. As Patricia and I are “seasoned,” as it were, and have done countless significant cases, other than the distraction of the parties involved and the media, we believe everything will run smoothly.

About the team:

The Hon. Michael Pastor will be conducting this trial. Mavis Theodorou has worked with him for more than 10 years, the majority of her career with the County of Los Angeles. She previously worked as a deposition reporter.

Patricia McNeal joined the team in 2007 when Mavis was covering a long-cause complex criminal felony trial court. She said, “When Judge Pastor began to see my eyes glaze over from the constant barrage of dailies in our courtroom, he gently asked if I need help.” Patricia’s judicial officer had transferred to Van Nuys, but Patricia was anxious to return downtown. The timing was right, and Patricia and Mavis became a team.

Mavis says, “We truly are a family, in that we have been together for many years and have a deep respect and appreciation for one another. “

Originally posted on the National Court Reporters Association’s website.