The Bill Cosby Case: Lessons of Transcript Ownership in the Age of Mass Media
by John Kent Edwards, Jr., Chief Judge
Judge Edwards will be presenting at the 24th AAERT Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia beginning Thursday, June 22nd through Sunday, June 25th, 2017 with Thursday evening being the first event for our Executive Forum attendees. Conference attendees will begin with registration on Friday afternoon.
Of all the legal machinations in the Bill Cosby saga, one of the strangest is playing out in a federal court in Massachusetts. Cosby's defense team is asking a federal magistrate judge to place under seal the 900-page transcript of a deposition given by the comedian. What makes the request notable is that the transcript, far from being a secret court document, is already in the possession of several news organizations, including The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Associated Press, all of which bought it from a court stenography service and reported extensively on its contents. The judge handling the case likens it to trying to “put toothpaste back in the tube.” How did the transcript get released? Who owns the transcript? Why didn’t the original court seal work? Will the media giants of today release the entire transcript? What lessons can court reporters learn from the lawsuit involving the transcript? These questions and more will be explored with an emphasis on related best practice standards for Georgia’s court reporters.