When Doing Your Job Poorly Is Criminal

Randy Chaviano
Randy Chaviano will get a new trial.
The headline in the Miami Herald reads “Hialeah Convicted Killer Gets New Trial Because of Stenographer Error.” Which is bad, no doubt, because the guy got convicted, the family of the victim got a little closure, and now everyone has to go through it again. However, it’s nowhere near as bad as what becomes clear by the end of the article: that it didn’t have to happen, and that the “error” happened due to the court’s refusal to hold the stenographer to proper work standards.

Usually, stenographers use machines that both record their writing to disk and to paper, which rolls through the machine. But these notes are typically unreadable by anyone other than the stenographer who took them because they’re idiosyncratic. So the stenographer takes the e-copy, puts it on a regular computer, and transcribes it into more comprehensible language.

In this case, the stenographer, Terlesa Cowart, put the e-copy on her own computer and erased the steno machine copy. And then her computer got a virus. Still, this shouldn’t have been a problem because of the paper backup. Only, as the Herald says at the end of the article, “she had a habit of not bringing enough of the special rolls of paper used to chronicle the proceedings.”

Two words stand out: a habit. A public service reminder from us here at Criminal Element, who spend all day on computers that don’t provide paper copies: back up your work. Make it a habit.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/01/01/2569743/hialeah-killer-gets-new-trial.html#storylink=cpy#storylink=c

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