MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A court reporter who was nearly arrested for failing to show up in court with important transcripts in a dozen trials showed up in court on Monday morning to defend herself.
With tears in her eyes, Roseann McMahon insisted she would never defy the courts.
This came even though she had failed to show up three times in the past month to explain why her court reporting business that’s based at her Pompano Beach apartment could not transcribe depositions in the cases, as a storage unit near her apartment remained packed with boxes of court documents.
“I was never ever missing,” McMahon told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “I’ve been a member of this community for more than 20 years. I help the indigent pay people so they can finish their cases in court. You can’t say I’m missing and missing transcripts. I take offense to that.”
McMahon appeared in court before Circuit Judge Bertila Soto, who had ordered a writ that would have allowed police to arrest McMahon.
“Where were you?” D’Oench asked McMahon in the hallway after her court appearance.
“I was at home,” said McMahon. “I did have the transcripts in the rotation. It was that simple. I had no transportation. I had no phone. It was that simple. I really thought I could appear by phone. I was not available by phone.”
McMahon’s company was hired to digitally record depositions from 2008 to 2011 for Miami’s Regional Conflict Counsel, which helps clients who can not afford to pay for attorneys.
McMahon testified that she could not produce the depositions because she had not been paid and even faced foreclosure on some of her properties.
“This is quite devastating to me and my staff,” she told the Judge.
She also told D’Oench, “We weren’t paid properly. That’s all we could do. It was a bookkeeping error. It had nothing to do with digital recording. It had to do with payments. I wasn’t a victim. This was a slow pay. How would it be if you weren’t paid? We were paid three times in the course of a year. We need a lot of money to take care of 28 staff members. I did the best I could.”
McMahon told Judge Soto she had been able to successfully transcribe five of some 30 depositions at issue. Under the Judge’s order, she was able to work out a plan with the Regional Counsel for finishing the work.
Her attorney, Albert Cartenudo, told D’Oench. “She was trying to correct the problem. She was trying to solve the problem. Everything snowballed. It can be overwhelming. We are about to get rolling on this and take care of the transcripts.”
Also monitoring the court proceedings was attorney Sheldon Zipkin, who was waiting for three transcripts from McMahon on an armed carjacking case. While a dozen criminal trials, including two death penalty cases, are delayed, Zipkin seemed sympathetic to McMahon.
“She testified her world fell apart financially,” said Zipkin, who hoped that none of the cases would be jeopardized.
Judge Soto scheduled another hearing for Friday morning and said if she did not seen signs of progress, “Criminal contempt proceedings will proceed.”