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August 29, 2004

Deaf resident wins fight with court

From: The Gloucester County Times, NJ - Aug 29, 2004

By Denise Jewell

PITMAN --Stephen Gregory will finally get a transcript of his day in court.

For eight years the Pitman resident, who is deaf, has been fighting the state's Administrative Office of the Courts to provide him with a written version of court proceedings.

Gregory, who uses a Computer Aided Real-Time Translation system to follow words spoken in the court, requested in 1996 that the state provide him with a written printout of the system's translation, which is typically scrolled on a computer monitor.

After the state denied his requests, Gregory sued the state three years later over the records issue in April 1999.

"It was mind-boggling to me that the state of New Jersey would take that kind of position," said Richard Schall, a Moorestown-based attorney who represented Gregory.

In a settlement finalized on June 30 shortly before the case was set to go to trial in federal court, the state agreed to provide the printouts to Gregory whenever he appears in Superior Court, the Appellate Division, or the state's Supreme Court, Schall said.

The state also agreed to pick up the $75,000 legal tab that Gregory racked up fighting for the state to accommodate his disability.

"I would hate to think that this is how our government is spending our tax dollars," Schall said.

While the state provides audio and videotapes of court proceedings for $10 a tape, Gregory had requested the printouts as a comparable service to fit his disability.

Schall said Gregory sought the written printout of the computer transcript --a real-time display of the court reporter's transcription -- in order to better follow the court proceedings.

Although the state did not agree to provide the printouts to all deaf litigants, Schall said he thought Gregory's legal settlement could help other disabled citizens in the future.

"Five years is a long time to get something that they're offering to the general public for 10 bucks," Schall said.

Copyright 2004 Gloucester County Times.