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Okorie v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

March 29, 2017

Chima OKORIE, Appellant
v.
The STATE of Texas, Appellee

         From the 227th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2015CR2022 Honorable Pat Priest, Judge Presiding

          ORDER

          MARIALYN BARNARD, JUSTICE

         The reporter's record in this appeal was originally due November 7, 2016, but the portion prepared by court reporter Lisa Ramos was not filed.[1] On November 15, 2016, this court notified Ms. Ramos by letter that she is the reporter responsible for timely filing the remaining portion of the reporter's record, and that portion of the record had not been filed. Our notice required Ms. Ramos to file the record no later than December 15, 2016, unless appellant had failed to pay or make arrangements to pay the fee for preparing the record and is not entitled to appeal without paying the fee, in which case Ms. Ramos was required to file a notice so advising the court no later than November 28, 2016. We received no response from Ms. Ramos.

         Accordingly, on December 30, 2016, we ordered Ms. Ramos to file her portion of the record in this court on or before January 30, 2017. Ms. Ramos was advised that if the record was not received by the date set forth in the order, we might order her to appear and show cause why she should not be held in contempt. Ms. Ramos was further advised that no extensions of time would be granted absent written proof extraordinary circumstances. Ms. Ramos filed neither the reporter's record nor any other response to our order.

         The clerk's office of this court attempted to contact Ms. Ramos by telephone on January 31, 2017, but could not reach her. Voicemails were left for Ms. Ramos at two separate numbers, advising that it was "imperative" that Ms. Ramos contact the court. When she did not respond, the clerk's office sent Ms. Ramos an email, again asking that she immediately contact the court. On February 1, 2017, Ms. Ramos replied to this court by email, advising she had not completed the record because she has "been diagnosed with a condition which I would rather not disclose via email which is making it difficult to complete the record." She stated her intent to employ an attorney to speak to the court on her behalf. She further stated she intended "on filing the record as soon as possible, " perhaps within the next thirty days.

         On February 2, 2017, after reviewing Ms. Ramos's email and based on her representations therein, we ordered her to file her portion of the record in this court on or before March 6, 2017. We again advised Ms. Ramos that if the record was not received by this date, we might order her to appear and show cause why she should not be held in contempt. She was further advised that no extensions of time would be granted absent written proof extraordinary circumstances. Finally, we advised Ms. Ramos that in the event she could not complete the record by the date ordered, she should contact the court in writing. Once again, Ms. Ramos failed to comply with this court's order.

         On March 8, 2017, the clerk of this court contacted Ms. Ramos by telephone and email regarding the status of the record. This time, Ms. Ramos advised that she had not completed the record because she had not yet received the renewal of her reporter's certification, precluding her from filing either the record or a notification of late record. This court contacted the certification body and learned Ms. Ramos's recertification was complete effective February 27, 2017. The clerk of this court contacted Ms. Ramos, advised her of the results of our inquiry, and requested that she immediately file a notification of late record. Ms. Ramos advised the clerk of this court that she had not checked the certifying body's public website regarding here certification because she was busy studying for and taking mid-term exams. Ms. Ramos did not file a notification of late record until Monday, March 13, 2017.

         In her March 13, 2017 notification of late record, Ms. Ramos asked this court to grant her yet another extension of time to file the record. She asked that extend the time to file the record to Saturday, March 25, 2017. In support of her request, she states she was unable to work on her portion of the record because of "several medical problems" and her failure to "renew [her] CSR license timely." She stated her license has now been reinstated, she is able to devote more time to completing the record, and that she has engaged the services of a scopist.

         Based on Ms. Ramos's representations, we granted her another extension of time to file the reporter's record. We ordered her to file the record in this court on or before March 25, 2017 - the date requested in her latest notification of late record. We again advised Ms. Ramos that if the record was not received by the date ordered, we might order her to appear and show cause why she not be held in contempt. We further advised her that no further extensions of time would be granted. This order was served on Ms. Ramos by certified mail, return receipt requested, and by first class United States mail. Ms. Ramos did not file the reporter's record nor did she contact this court.

         On Monday, March 27, 2017, the clerk's office of this court contacted Ms. Ramos be email, inquiring about the status of the record and reminding her that pursuant to our order of March 17, 2017, the record was due in this court on March 25, 2017. Ms. Ramos responded by email as follows:

Unfortunately, my scopist contracted the flu last week. She believes she will have her portion of the record on Okorie done by Thursday. I will then have to index it of course. Her portion is the Voir Dire and a pretrial motion. And hopefully file it via Tames Portal. The rest of the record is being indexed as I type this email. I have hired an additional scopist to help with the remaining records I have pending so hopefully this will not happen again. Please understand I am a full-time student at UTSA and I have been skipping classes in order to work on these records, which is substantially impacting my grades. I am not ignoring the responsibility. This deadline got by me because I actually believed it was due this Friday. So ultimately, I understand this is my responsibility.

         After consideration of the foregoing facts, we ORDER court reporter Lisa Ramos to appear in the courtroom of the Fourth Court of Appeals, 300 Dolorosa, Suite 3200, San Antonio, Texas 78205, on APRIL 18, 2017, AT 2:30 P.M. before a panel consisting of Justice Barnard, Justice Martinez, and Justice Alvarez to show cause:

1. why she should not be held in criminal contempt and civil contempt of this court for violating this court's March 17, 2017 order by failing to file the reporter's ...

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