Dallas judge orders further review of transcripts in Routier
By Mede Nix Star-Telegram Dallas Bureau
DALLAS -- An independent court reporter will review transcripts of jury
selection and other hearings in the Darlie Routier capital murder case to
make sure the records are accurate, a district judge ruled yesterday.
The ruling by District Judge Robert Francis came at the request of
Routier's attorneys, who wanted a review of the entire court record
prepared by court reporter Sandra Halsey. The same independent court
reporter, Susan Simmons, reconstructed transcripts from testimony in
Routier's trial after several mistakes were found in the original.
Francis last month certified the reconstructed transcripts as accurate for
Routier's appeal. But Routier's appellate attorney, Stephen Cooper, argued
that if mistakes were found in the testimony transcript, errors may have
been made in transcripts from almost a month of jury selection and in
The issue of whether the new transcript is acceptable for Routier's appeal
of her conviction remains unresolved. Although Francis' finding that the
reworked trial transcript is accurate carries weight, the final decision
is up to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, attorneys said.
Cooper said he has substantial grounds on which to challenge the
reconstructed transcript. Cooper said that because Simmons was not present
at the trial, she cannot verify that her reconstruction is an accurate
reflection of what happened. Cooper also contends that the reconstructed
transcript was created using audio tapes, which is illegal, he said.
And now that Simmons will be reviewing another 17,000 pages of
transcripts, attorneys estimated it may be months before the appeals court
can finally decide on the transcript issue.
If the record is not deemed acceptable for appellate purposes, Routier
could get a new trial. She was convicted of capital murder and sentenced
to death in an attack at her Rowlett home in 1996 in which her two young
sons, Devon and Damon, were killed. She contends that an intruder killed
Routier, who has been in the Lew Sterrett Justice Center since the
hearings on the transcripts began in the fall, appeared in court yesterday
for the 10-minute hearing.