Attorney General Carl Bethel.
By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government is considering hiring new staff in their bid to resolve the long-standing issue of the lack of stenographers in the Magistrate's Court, Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday.
In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Bethel said he is in discussion with the Chief Justice over the matter, adding the use of voice recognition technology is also being considered.
"Yes, there haven't been stenographers in the Magistrate's Court for quite some time," Mr Bethel said. "Recently a voice-activated recording system has been installed in every court, inclusive of the Magistrate's Court, so there is (an) audio record of everything that goes on…in the court.
"And what we hope to do is to begin the process of advertising and engaging persons who are prepared to be trained not as stenographers but as transcriptionists, meaning that they will be able to listen to the recording and transcribe it into a printed format.
He continued: "Failing which, we are also looking at the latest in voice recognition technology…Since over the last decade or so voice recognition technology with the use of (Artificial Intelligence) AI, no doubt and all these other things, has dramatically improved and so the CJ and I had a discussion about this last week or the week before -we meet every week- and so it's a part of our discussions to identify voice recognition technology."
While noting his preference would be the option which involves hiring and training Bahamians, Mr Bethel underscored his job as Attorney General is to "facilitate" the ultimate goals of the Chief Justice and Judiciary.
"I prefer if we could hire and train some Bahamians. I don't like automation taking over everything that ordinarily one would look for human beings to do," he said.
"And if it's possible for us to find persons interested in a career in being transcriptionists, we would be more than happy to let them undergo the training. In the absence though of any interest in the rigours of such a system, we would have to look to voice recognition technology.
"But we do want to address the difficulty in having a firm record - and unfortunately in the state of our law right now, a record is something that is in writing, something that the witness signs on, something that the court seals, et cetera et cetera.
"And so we may have to look at the laws of admissibility in terms of perhaps of oral testimony et cetera in the Magistrate's Court…that may be backed up by a transcript but that the oral record, the recorded record, and the transcript would all be admissible."
When asked when the advertisement for such a position could begin, Mr Bethel said it's a question of "mobilizing the bureaucracy" and "settling on a firm strategy".
"The Chief Justice and I are still in discussion. Bear it in mind that I can't- he is independent of me, he and the judiciary are independent of me. My job is merely to facilitate their decisions," he said. "So my preference for hiring human beings may not ultimately be the Chief Justice's and the Judiciary's preference.
Mr Bethel added: But my job as Attorney General is to work with the head of the judicial system in The Bahamas, who is the Chief Justice, to achieve his goals that he sets.