6th Floor (and Court Reporter Speech)
The sixth floor of the U.S. Courthouse is made up of three courtrooms and a variety of other offices.
Courtroom 6A is home to Judge William Standish, a senior judge. Judge Standish handled the case involving the U.S. Air Flight 427 crash, which occurred in September of 1994 and resulted in the deaths of 131 people. Although the case settled and never went to trial, Judge Standish and his staff devoted many months to pretrial and evidentiary matters. Judge Standish is a descendent of Myles Standish, a military advisor for the Pilgrims, who arrived in this country on the Mayflower.
Courtroom 6B is presently used for visiting judges, special masters, and agencies like the Tax Court. Previously, this courtroom was the scene of a case where the identification of the defendant was an issue for suppression. In order to prevent the witnesses from viewing the defendant during the hearing, the judge ordered the defendant to wear a brown bag over his head. The defendant was permitted to have eye holes cut into the bag.
Across from Room 6B is the court reporters' office.
There are eight court reporters located on the fifth and sixth floors of the U.S. Courthouse. Court reporters attend a college or business school and usually receive an associate's degree.
National testing standards require prospective court reporters to perform at an initial speed of 225 words per minute and a later speed of 260 words per minute. They also require realtime certification.
The state-of-the-art technology in court reporting is realtime translation. You may be familiar with this realtime reporting from watching the closed captions on your television. During a live broadcast, a court reporter is listening to the audio, writing it onto his or her machine, and sending it through their phone lines to satellites, where it arrives in homes and businesses in about two seconds.
Court reporters in the district courts use realtime technology to instantly convert speech into text that can be read, searched, and studied. Only a court reporter can produce a realtime record which gives instant access to the transcript of court proceedings, enabling judges to review objections before issuing rulings.
The software used for realtime reporting allows users to flag important text, cut-and-paste text, search text, and generate various reports.
Court reporters can also be employed by private firms which handle depositions and other proceedings outside of the courthouse. They can likewise be employed as CART providers. (CART stands for “Communications Access Realtime Translation.”) CART reporters use realtime technology in classroom settings, where lessons for deaf and hearing-impaired students are translated.
Courtroom 6C is presided over by Judge Terrence McVerry. Judge McVerry is a former state legislator and state court Judge. In a case involving free speech rights, Judge McVerry ruled that a school district could not punish a student for creating an off-campus parody of his principal on MySpace, since the school district could not show any disruption to school-related activities.
In Courtroom 6C, retired Judge Donald Ziegler handled the1990 trial of a La Cosa Nostra underboss, a top mob lieutenant, and seven mob associates who were convicted of various crimes. From the steps of the courthouse on the night of the convictions, it was said by former U.S. Attorney Tom Corbett, "We have successfully severed the head from the body of La Cosa Nostra in Western Pennsylvania."