The Plot to Control America’s Courts*

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that the companies that control the court reporting industry have been bought out by KKR and Blackstone, each now representing half of the country’s current court reporting workforce. The FTC’s Lina Khan stated in a recent press conference on the issue that court reporters were “pretty much on their own” because helping such a small industry is a “colossal waste of time and resources.”

All of this happened simultaneously with a change in state law that would allow court reporters in California to work in Texas. Opponents of the bill said that the lack of mutual reciprocity was concerning.

Local court reporter Jim Jones said “wow, my association could’ve done something about this, but all the board members were making money by selling off their businesses to the perpetrators. Who could have seen this coming?”

After the news broke, enigmatic blogger Al Anonymous posted to popular court reporting blog Steno Imperium that the wholesale purchasing of court reporting firms and ousting of professional court reporters from courtrooms was done to sway the record in big money’s favor. “Think about it,” Al wrote. “When you have transcribers that are paid pennies, desperate to keep their jobs, they’ll change anything for a buck or if they’re ordered to by their boss. Those pressures exist even in traditional court reporting circles. What hope do we have if you trade that responsibility away to a culture without ethical boundaries?”

Shortly after, a Staten Island home was raided by police and the Steno Imperium blog went offline. There are no further updates at this time.

Court Reporting Company of the Year, Veritext, through its representative Jane Doe, stated, “We are pleased with this outcome. Now nobody will have to bribe judges to win appeals. They can just bribe us. All profits matter.”

*None of this is true. It’s part of Stenonymous Satire Weekends. I used to use these to expose corporate fraud in court reporting, but this time I’m doing it as more of a cautionary revisiting of the leadership vulnerability issues that I raised in the Cost of Corruption article.

The private equity model has dug its claws into everything from court reporters to emergency medicine physician staffing. If KKR and Blackstone are giving DOCTORS a run for their money, you can bet we’re all going to feel it sooner or later. But use this as a creative thinking exercise. If you continue to allow the corporate consolidation of court reporting and the alleged massive shifting of the workforce to people they’re going to pay less and treat worse, how easy is it going to be for the wealthy to influence transcripts? At least with stenographic notes, you can’t easily alter the stenographic strokes, so any lawyer could hire another reporter to read the notes and see if stuff was left out or filled in from a source other than the stenographic notes. With audio, as we know, court audio goes missing and court administrators in other states hide it by omission. Audio’s also far easier to edit than stenographic strokes.

Till next time.

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