Randy Chaviano, 26, convicted by a jury in July 2009 of fatally shooting Charles Acosta at his Hialeah duplex, will get a new trial, because allegedly Terlesa Cowart, a Miami-Dade court stenographer/reporter with the firm of Goldman, Naccarato Patterson Vela & Associates Inc., transferred her legal notes to her personal computer and subsequently her computer was struck with a virus that essentially wiped out all her documents, including the transcript. That is either an elaborate lie or an unfortunate chain of events.
The problem was discovered when Chaviano attempted to appeal his conviction and the Third District Court of Appeal began their process to determine whether an appeal was warranted and had difficulty finding the transcripts of the eight-day trial, and did what is considered customary procedure, requested a copy of the murder trial.
When Cowart was notified by the court reporting agency that the appellate court placed an order for the transcripts of the trial, Cowart was in trouble, knowing that she could not produce a legal record of the court proceedings. With no legal record on file as to what happened in court, the Third District Court of Appeal had no choice but throw out the conviction and grant Chaviano a new trial and another chance to be tried before a jury of his peers.
The overturning of a murder conviction creates tremendous hardship on the victims’ family, the prosecutors, prosecutor’s investigators, expert witnesses, police officers, other witnesses, if any, court personnel and the court reporting agency associated with Terlesa Cowart.
The family will now have to re-visit every heart gripping detail of the case and will also have to feel the pain of losing their love one all over again. To have to listen too the sordid details once is bad enough but to have to go through that grueling procedure twice is mental and emotional torture.
The news could not come at a worst time for the court reporters as the 11th Judicial Circuit is in the process of starting a pilot program, putting digital recorders in with court reporters to capture the words of judges, lawyers, defendants and witnesses.
Court reporters have resisted this move for years, fearing that they will be ultimately replaced by the digital recorders. However, the 11th Judicial Circuit has already forged ahead and wired the courtrooms at Miami-Dade’s criminal courthouse. In a few months, five courtrooms in the criminal division will begin using digital recorders during the daily morning calendar session.
As a result of Cowart’s negligence and lack of due care of legal documents, she is no longer affiliated with Goldman, Naccarato Patterson Vela & Associates Inc.,
With this change of events, technically, it puts Harvey Sepler, defense attorney for Chaviano on the offense and the prosecution on the defense in an attempt too replicate the previous outcome, knowing that Sepler has an advantage, and will have yet another day in court to prove Randy Chaviano innocence.
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