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Getting Away With Fake Transcripts

March 26, 2015 permalink

Litigants in family court have long been plagued with altered transcripts, altered in such a way as to remove many grounds for appeal. Now in addition to typed transcripts, parties can get an audio recording. The policy is on the Ontario Court website at Release of Digital Court Recordings. But the courts protect themselves from disclosure of their mistakes (or intentional alterations). Anyone applying for a transcript has to fill out the Undertaking to the Court for Access to Digital Court Recordings, downloadable from the Ontario Courts website or our local copy (doc). For readers who cannot read doc files, the applicant must agree to:

  1. I have read and understand s.136 of the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.C.43, including that every person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $25,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both.
  2. I will not publish, broadcast, reproduce or otherwise disseminate the digital recording, including any annotation in the audio file, in any way.
  3. I will not copy, save, upload or download the digital recording.
  4. I will not authorize, assist or permit anyone to publish, broadcast, reproduce or otherwise disseminate the digital recording, including any annotation in the digital recording, in any way.
  5. I will not provide the digital recording, or copies of same, in any format to any third party.
  6. If a witness exclusion order has been made in the proceeding, I will not disclose the contents of the digital recording to any prospective witness who has not given evidence.
  7. I acknowledge that any notes, transcription or similar document that I produce using the digital recording is not a court transcript or a court record, and I will not purport that it is a court transcript or a court record.
  8. When the digital recording is not being used for the purpose permitted by the undertaking, I will keep the digital recording in a secure place where it cannot be accessed by other persons.
  9. I will destroy the digital recording and render it inoperable when the purpose for which the digital recording was provided to me has concluded.

When there are significant differences between the audio and the transcript, victims ought to be able to expose the chicanery by posting both. But the contract in the application makes them subject to the wrath of the law for doing so.

There is an occasional victim who has nothing to lose. If you are such a person who has received altered transcripts, please send both versions to fixcas. For your convenience here is a link to contact information