Trials & Litigation

Court reporter is ordered to meet deadline or go to jail, with her equipment, until work is done

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A court reporter in Texas who blamed her missed deadlines on a Holland & Knight lawyer’s “constant calling” at least twice per day faces a new deadline with consequences.

The Twelfth Court of Appeals found court reporter Beverly Dixon in contempt Monday after she sought four extensions, the first two of which were granted. She missed the last deadline set for Sept. 22.

Law360 has the story.

After the Oct. 24 show-cause hearing, the appeals court fined Dixon $500 and ordered her to file the first two volumes of the trial record by Oct. 25 and the final two volumes by Oct. 31.

If Dixon misses the Oct. 31 deadline, she will have to bring her equipment to the Smith County Jail and work on completing her work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, the appeals court said. A deputy will supervise her work, and she will have to eat her lunch “on the premises.”

Dixon will have to continue reporting to jail until the completed court record is accepted and filed.

The appeals court also ordered a complaint be filed against Dixon with the Texas Judicial Branch Certification Commission in connection with the case and six others involving incomplete records.

Dixon had testified in April that she filled in as a substitute court reporter in five Smith County cases Dec. 3, 2021, and her notes from the entire day had disappeared, according to past coverage by KLTV.

Holland & Knight lawyer Stephen C. Rasch mentioned the April KLTV story when he opposed Dixon’s third extension request in an Aug. 18 letter. He said his client, the Lazy W Conservation District, is concerned that Dixon had also lost records in its case.

After the appeals court asked Dixon to respond to Rasch’s objection, she said she was “at a loss” as to how to respond.

“First, they called me at least twice a day,” she wrote in an Aug. 29 letter. “I told them it would take longer with their constant calling. Then they told me that I lacked professionalism. Mr. Rasch was the main one doing all that.”

Rasch countered that Dixon’s allegations about the calls were “fiction,” and he had called her only once, on June 9, and there was no discussion about her professionalism.

“I would also point out that none of Ms. Dixon’s three requests for extension of time stated or suggested that her delay was somehow due to fielding phone calls from my law firm,” he wrote.

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