Instead of recording actual court dialogue during a high-profile criminal trial, an alcoholic Manhattan stenographer kept writing “I hate my job” over and over again.
The New York Post tells us that Daniel Kochanski's actions, which also included hitting random keys during trials, jeopardized the outcome of more than 30 Manhattan court cases, by giving defendants the opportunity to claim that essential evidence is missing.
Crucial details of those cases were not recorded because the alcoholic typist completely messed the transcripts of the trials, and officials are not trying to repair the damage caused by the 43-year-old man.
“It should have been questions and answers - instead it was gibberish. He hit random keys or wrote, ‘I hate my job. I hate my job,’ over and over,” court sources familiar to the case said.
Ten convictions could be overturned, as some of the cases have already been appealed.
Among the botched records is the transcript of a controversial high-profile case – the 2010 mortgage-fraud trial of Aaron Hand, 42, a broker who was also convicted of trying to hire a hit man to murder a witness.
Kochanski was fired in March 2012 for misconduct. When contacted by reporters, Kochanski denied messing up the transcripts.
“I never typed gibberish. I always did my job 100 per cent. I was let go because of substance abuse. I’m in recovery. July will be one year I’m clean,” he told the NY Post.
The case came to light only after prosecutors were forced to admit that he might have missed fundamental evidence in some trials. In an attempt to recover the details he failed to record, judges have summoned witnesses to a series of “reconstruction hearings.”
“This situation is terrible for everybody. It’s very difficult to come up with a sufficient record based on everybody’s recollection years after the event,” said Claudia Trupp, of the Center for Appellate Litigation, which is handling the appeals in Hand’s and nine other cases.
Kochanski's actions have been compared to horror movie The Shining, in which the character played by Jack Nicholson repeatedly writes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
The high amount of botched transcripts made many wonder if his work was actually checked by anyone. If he was able to write gibberish instead of actual trial exchanges in 30 cases, couldn't he have changed important dialogue in other cases as well?