Update on Wayne Bent trial transcripts

Updated at 10:21am PST

I regret to report that my plan to obtain transcripts of the Wayne Bent trial hasn’t exactly unfolded as expected.  As several of you know, I’d planned to make the transcripts available here on Beyond90Seconds.com.

Yesterday, I received a package in the mail from New Mexico’s Eighth Judicial District Court.  It contained the “transcripts” I’d ordered.

The “transcripts” were contained on seven CDs.  The CDs did not contain Word or pdf files of the trial.  Rather, each CD contained a single audio file.  Each audio file represented a specific day of the trial (the seventh CD contained the audio from Bent’s sentencing day).

This morning, I reached Union County Court Deputy Clerk Karen Vieites by telephone.  Vieites explained that “transcripts” are generally preserved as audio files these days.  A “steno“, she added, would only appear at trial at the request of a judge.  And that doesn’t usually happen, according to Vieites.

My initial concern was file size.  For example, the audio from day one of the trial runs more than 4-hours and 45-minutes.  I converted that Windows Media Audio to an mp3.  That brought the file size down to 326.3 MB.  And that’s just for day one of the trial (I was already thinking ahead to purchasing more storage space on WordPress).

But then—and this is the most important issue—I began listening to the audio.

The quality of the sound is very good.  And you hear everything.

Including the names of the victims.

Folks, I’ve wrestled with this in my head since yesterday.  Of course, I knew right away I wouldn’t upload the audio files with the names of the victims still audible.  There would have to be some editing to “bleep-out” those names.

But that would require a tremendous amount of editing.   I simply don’t have the time for that task, friends.

Some may argue that the files should be uploaded sans editing.  After all, it’s all public record.  And one girl’s name is easily known to anyone who’s followed this case (it does appear elsewhere on this blog, too).

Still, I can’t do it.  Not fair to the other girl.  Not fair to the family, really.

Should the day come when the entire family wants to sit down and do an interview with Dr. Phil, Larry King or some other media, that would cause me to reconsider my decision not to post the trial and sentencing audio on the Internet.

But the odds of such a day arriving seem pretty bleak, right now.

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12 Responses to Update on Wayne Bent trial transcripts

  1. avatar
    ron January 27, 2009 at 10:22 am #

    A classy decision.

  2. avatar
    EMC January 27, 2009 at 10:23 am #

    Therein lies several of the drawbacks to the information age.

    Although I am interested in the transcripts, I fully support your decision to protect the privacy of the family, Mark. I think it’s just good journalism.

    If you don’t mind me asking – what was the cost for the CDs?

  3. avatar
    Beyond90Seconds January 27, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    Each CD cost $4.00. There were seven CDs, bringing the total to $28.00. An additional postage charge of $4.95 was added to that total, bringing the final sum to $32.95.
    I should probably explain another point here. Some might suggest that editing text transcripts would require editing time, too. While that’s true, it would require significantly less time.
    I prefer to edit in Word. And, as I’m sure many of you know, one can go to “Tools” in Word, and click on “Replace”. In one fell swoop (or “click”), one word can can easily be omitted/replaced throughout an entire document.

  4. avatar
    Sam Redman January 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm #

    One of the girls is a public figure

    I do agree about blocking one of the girls’ names, the one who chose to remain private. But, the other one, the young lady who has enthusiastically made herself into a public figure? No. She has appeared voluntarily in publicly shown videos and has posted vigorously on the web, proudly describing all of her “skin to skin” (her words) activities and she has already publicly identified herself by her real name in her own blog (the now defunct contemplationsofmyheart.blogspot.com), revealing, for all to know, the very same name which appears in the the public court documents. Once anyone has decided to become a “star,” they truly no longer have the right (or expectation) of anonymity. The other witness (whose name unfortunately still does appear on the web in the court docket records), however, has not been public and therefore hasn’t given up her reasonable expectations of privacy (and so her name shouldn’t be disseminated).

    — Sam

  5. avatar
    Jan January 27, 2009 at 3:13 pm #

    I am curious Mark if anyone could purchase those CD’s or were you able to because of your position with this blog and the case?

    And of course respect your decision regarding the privacy of the females.

  6. avatar
    Beyond90Seconds January 27, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    Hi Jan,

    Anyone can request the CDs. It’s public information.

    Best,
    Mark

  7. avatar
    Betsy January 27, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    As you might have guessed, I applaud your decision Mark. Although I understand Sam’s argument that one of the victims has virtually “waived” her right to privacy by her actions, I would argue (and remind) that this victim is a child who has not had the opportunity to acquire critical thinking and reasoning skills. This is why many/most courts offer more protective orders for child victims more so than adult.

    From a child advocate, I thank you Mark.

  8. avatar
    Beyond90Seconds January 27, 2009 at 5:15 pm #

    Betsy,

    Thank you.

    Best,
    Mark

  9. avatar
    Sam Redman January 28, 2009 at 10:01 am #

    Mark,

    I must say that I think your reasoning in opting out of doing a mammoth editing job (and not wishing to pay additional monthly fees for added storage) makes sense. There is only so much time you can spend on a site which produces no revenue.

    One suggestion which I offer is that you might want to take a look at incorporating google ads on the site (most people don’t find them to be objectionable… I know I have clicked on them now and then). But, if you are just simply opposed to advertisements on your site, then may I suggest that you should, at the least, put up a donation button and allow people (like me), who enjoy what you are doing here to participate.

    — Sam

  10. avatar
    Beyond90Seconds January 28, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    Hi Sam,

    At some point, I’ll probably put up a donate link/button on the home page. I do have PayPal, so it really wouldn’t be difficult to do so.

    I played with google ads many months ago. Tough to get them onto wordpress.com sites (like mine). Easier with wordpress.org. I’m not going the wordpress.org route, yet. Maybe one day.

    Many months ago, I did put up some google ads on a few of my .mac pages used in conjunction with this blog. To date, they’ve generated $0.00.

    I started thinking, “Is it really worth cluttering-up the blog with ads to get, maybe, a few dollars?” I concluded, “No.”

    Now, what I’d really like to do some day, is have a brief (say 5 or 10 seconds) ad at the beginning of video and audio podcasts. Something like, “This Beyond90Second.com presentation brought to you by the (insert name) Company.”

    This approach is similar to what we’ve historically seen on public television. However, I feel that before any potential advertisers could be approached, I’d need to develop a much larger reader/visitor base than I presently have.

    Currently, this blog typically gets several hundred page views per day. Yesterday, as expected (given the developments in the Bent case), was a busier day with 1,343 page views.

    In case anyone’s wondering, the busiest day ever on this blog was in the Spring of 2008. A story about the murder of Juliana Redding received nearly 2,500 page views in a 24-hour period. That story continues rank among my most-read posts each day. It is, by far, the most read story on this blog, having received more than twice as many views as the second most popular story.

    Three stories about Juliana Redding are among this blog’s Top 5 most read stories. A Wayne Bent story appears at number 4.

    Now, do I really think this blog is going to grow to the point where serious advertisers would be willing to pay for a brief ad in the audio/video podcasts? I’m not holding my breath. Especially, since I’m not focused on making that happen.

    But Beyond90Seconds.com does seem to have found some traction on the ever-growing Web. For that, I’m thankful.

    As I’ve often said, “If you put good food on the table, do your best to provide good service, and make sure the price is fair… Well, people will return to your table.”

    Finally, back to those audio “transcripts” in the Bent case for a moment. While the size was a concern, meaning I’d have to buy some more storage space, it was not a determining factor when deciding whether or not to make them available on this blog.

    It simply came down to whether or not I had the time to bleep-out every mention of the victims’ names over seven days worth of trial and sentencing audio. And I don’t.

    Best,
    Mark

  11. avatar
    Sam Redman January 28, 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    I have had some experience with getting transcript audios typed up over the past four years or so. I would be willing to get someone to work on getting a few of the key testimonies and the summaries “transcribed” into text (redacting the names of the underage witnesses). Upon completion, I will be happy to provide those to you for first publication. Getting the entire trial typed up would be a huge undertaking. I wouldn’t do that unless I were engaged by the defense to work on parsing the document for the appeal (which hasn’t happened). But grabbing snippets out is a reasonable task.

    — Sam

  12. avatar
    Beyond90Seconds January 28, 2009 at 4:25 pm #

    Sam,

    Thank you for your very generous offer. I think, though, that your work should go on your blog, samredman.wordpress.com. I might even link to those redacted transcripts, one you have them up.

    Also, because I’ve now directed others seeking the trial/sentencing audio to Union County District Court Clerk Karen Vieites, I feel it’s only fair for me to do so here, too.

    Because the master audio files were recently completed by Ms. Vieites, you won’t have to wait nearly as long as I did to receive them. One regular reader of this blog told me that she reached Vieites by phone today and ordered the CDs. The reader tells me she was told that the CDs are “on their way.”

    If you—or anyone reading this comment—would like contact information for Ms. Vieites, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at mark.horner@gmail.com.

    Best,
    Mark

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