Friday, February 15, 2008

Get that money

Two Gwinnett County court reporters have found a loop hole and are making sure they get paid. Pamela Lennard and Mike Ables have both been charging more than $170,000 for their work, which is more than double what other county reporters are charging and more than the judges they work for make. For some reason, the county has a problem with this.

Eight other court reporters billed the county anywhere between $41,000 and $85,000. Court reporters document judicial proceedings and prepare transcripts. They are licensed through the state.

Lennard and Able were transcribing everything said during court hearings that could involve multiple defendants, such as arraignments or trial calendar calls, then attaching that full transcript to each case file. That meant hundreds of extra copies for which they could bill the county, Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said.

Technically, a certified copy of those proceedings must be made part of the court record but doesn't have to be included with each defendant's case file, Porter said. It can be filed separately with the Clerk of Court.

At least one court reporter, Ables, is more than a year behind in finishing certain trial transcripts, but "by God those calendars get turned in because he's getting to bill $2,000 for it," Porter said.

Now typically, Gwinnett judges make just north of $150,000 a year. If the court clerk is pulling ing about $175,000, doesn't that just make them oppourtunists? I mean if the judges are so smart, wouldnt they have taken a higher paying gig? And just because the court reporters are using a loop hole to steal money from the county, what's the problem? I say if you want to make money, you've got to take money. If the county doesn't like it, they should fix the loop hole.

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