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Transcribers Hang on Every Word of O.J. Simpson Trial

September 29, 1995

DENVER (AP) _ Nothing sounded sweeter to Dave Coldiron’s employees than closing arguments in the O.J. Simpson trial. That’s because they have had to listen to and transcribe more than 3,100 hours of well- and not-so-well-chosen words uttered in court.

From the halting translations of Rosa Lopez’s Spanish to the technical jargon of the DNA experts, Coldiron’s 30 high-speed typists at Journal Graphics have taken down the back-and-forth of the trial for posterity.

``One staff member said she feels like she’s been sequestered along with the jury,″ Coldiron said.

Journal Graphics listens to such programs as ``Nightline″ and ``Donahue″ and sells the transcripts to the public. The company began recording the Simpson trial from Court TV and CNN when pretrial hearings started more than a year ago.

Since January, when opening statements began, the company has had to hire eight more transcribers, some of whom might be laid off when the trial is over. Transcribers have to be fast typists and pass a current-events quiz.

The $10-an-hour transcribers type the proceedings from audio cassettes taped off television. They use headphones and machines that allow them to rewind, fast-forward and slow down or speed up the oratory.

``You see the bickering going on, some of the foolishness of the prosecution and the defense. A lot of us were hoping the TV plug got pulled. We cheered when (Judge Lance) Ito pulled the plug for an hour on Tuesday,″ Coldiron said.

Scrambled phrases and Freudian slips have glided off the lawyers’ tongues, and it’s the transcribers’ duty to catch it all.

``Who knows? Someone might look at this years later and infer something from one of those misspoken words. We’re helping history here,″ transcriber Marlene Rezvani said.

Which lawyer is hardest to transcribe?

``Johnnie Cochran,″ Coldiron said. ``He’s pretty hard to understand because he speaks fast and in fragments.″ And prosecutor Christopher Darden is tough ``because he mumbles.″

Transcripts cost $50 for a day’s worth, $2,300 for the entire trial.

Sales manager John Berglund said Journal Graphics gets about three requests a day for the transcripts. Journal Graphics’ transcriptions also are sold to computer on-line services.

``Opening arguments were far and away the best sellers,″ with 40 transcripts sold, Berglund said. Closing arguments are expected to sell well, too, at about 50 copies, he said.

But only two people from California have ordered all of the transcripts _ a Los Angeles writer working on a book about the trial and a Sacramento woman whose satellite dish doesn’t pick up the proceedings.

What they got is 8,000 to 9,000 pages, amounting to a file 5 feet thick.

The transcripts are nowhere near as popular as Journal Graphics’ all-time best seller, which brought 100,000 requests at $3 each: The secret recipes, revealed on a ``Donahue″ show a few years ago, for making such treats as Twinkies, Pepsi and Kentucky Fried Chicken at home.

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