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Court Reporter in Court

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Prisoners...even convicted murderers...have a right to appeal their convictions.

The appeal process for one convicted killer from Faulkner county has bogged down...and that has a court reporter in hot water.

An appeals court needs to review what happened in a trial before they can rule if an appeal has any merit.

A delay in providing one trial transcript led to an uncomfortable morning for one court clerk.

In September of last year Antwan Fowler of Conway was convicted and sent to prison for his role in a deadly Conway shootout.

Just over a year ago, Fowler's attorney filed an appeal of that conviction.

Almost immediately the court granted a request made by Debra Whillock, court reporter for the 1st division of the 20th district, for more time to type up the trial transcript.

As that extended deadline approached, Whillock asked for another extension.

In May the Supreme Court urged her to " not and make due return of this writ under your official seal."

Fowler's attorney was not as kind, arguing that "...the failure of the court reporter to complete the transcript..." warranted that the conviction be "...reversed and the case dismissed."

That motion was denied and on July 26th the court told Whillock the "...record was due in 60 days. Final extension."

That deadline was also missed, so Whillock was ordered to appear at a Show Cause hearing to explain why.

Her attorney entered a plea of not guilty to a possible misdemeanor charge.

"There was a transcript due, the transcript was not filed in the time allowed, it has now been filed...and following the proper procedures the Court of Appeals has issued a show cause hearing for explanation of the late filing of the transcript," said Lynn Plemmons, Conway attorney.

No explanation was offered on this day, but in past court filings Whillock told the court she is dealing with an extreme caseload and working days, nights, weekends and holidays, she suffered a torn rotator cuff, and has had trouble finding help.

The transcript for this case was filed on Monday...over a year after the appeal was filed.

Air date: December 18th, 2013