Meet John Botero, Office of Court Professionals

John Botero, Program Manager, Office of Court Professionals, spoke with the Courts Journal about managing Commission on Interpreters, the Board of Court Reporters and the Ad Hoc Committee on Process Servers.

John BoteroCourts Journal: Please tell us a little about your background.  Where did you grow up?  What’s your educational background?
John Botero: I moved to the United States at age 13 from the Republic of Colombia into a suburb of New York City called Ossining where I received my High School Diploma. I went to school at City University of New York / John Jay College of Criminal Justice where I studied Criminal Justice. A few years later, I obtained my Master of Public Administration from Pace University in New York in which my concentrations were Government and Planning. I worked as a Court Interpreter and later as a Court Clerk for the Judicial Branch of the State of Connecticut for 5 years. My legs still hurt from all the running around, but it was a wonderful experience that I will always cherish. After that, I started working for the Judicial Council / Administrative Office of the Courts in Atlanta as a Business Analyst, a position in which I stayed for 18 months.

CJ: What programs do you manage?
John Botero: I manage the Commission on Interpreters, the Board of Court Reporters and the Ad Hoc Committee on Process Servers.

CJ: Coming into this position, what did you see as the priority for the programs that you manage?
John Botero: I believe that the number one priority is increasing the numbers of our Court Professionals; we are in desperate need of more Court Interpreters and Court Reporters and we definitely need to work on increasing the numbers. My predecessor, Mr. Morokuma, did a wonderful job in working for these different groups and it is of the essence to work on enhancing the numbers and also educate the public that there are these great careers out there.

CJ: Now that you’ve been on the job for a while, what do you see as the main focus for the programs that you manage?
John Botero:  I think it’s very important to create some uniformity in the rules, these three different groups are very similar, and having similar rules would be common sense as it would help our staff streamline the process. We are lucky that we work with Board, Commission and Committee members who are very devoted to the different groups and we absolutely need to use that interest to forward these different professions.

CJ: How do these programs benefit the courts of Georgia?
John Botero:  They are all absolutely essential. Court Interpreters are closely attached to Title VI of the United States Code, which gives equal access to law to all people regardless of sex, origin, race, religion and mother tongue. Imagine for a minute being in legal trouble in a foreign country of which you do not speak the language and going through the legal system without understanding a single word being uttered. There are many people in Georgia who have very limited knowledge of the English language or none at all. This puts them on equal footing with someone who does speak the language thanks to Interpreters who are experts in their different languages and assist these individuals in the Court system.
     As to Court Reporters, I can only say that without them doing the essential task of keeping the court record, it would only be like a game of “telephone” full of he-said, she-said. Court reporters and the product of their work is the only way we can determine what was said inside a courtroom, which will eventually be essential to the delivery of justice.
     Process Service is a growing profession in the State of Georgia, and their service helps Sheriffs and other law enforcement officers provide other services that may be more urgent to their communities.

CJ: Where would you like to see OCP in the next year, five years?
John Botero:  One of our most important short-term goals is to standardize the rules for all three different groups of court professionals, and we are working hard at ensuring that we update and modify all the rules for these different groups. Furthermore, we are working to increase the number of Court Professionals or start to increase said numbers.
     The next five years will perhaps be more concentrated on the effects of technology in these different professions. With the use of electronic transcribing software and automated interpreting tools, we see that there might be a need to regulate and test these products, but at the same time assessing how our court professionals can adapt the use of these different technologies to their respective professions. The idea would never be to replace the human being, but to help them adapt these technological advancements into their respective professions so their output can be increased.

CJ: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
John Botero: One of the things that can be overlooked from time to time is the exceptional work that the professionals at OCP and GCR do. The different Committees, Commissions and Board work with a wonderful group of professionals in Bianca Bennett, Angela Choyce, Herbert Gordon, Tynesha Manuel and Amber Richardson, who understand and are committed in assisting the different groups and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that they have been extremely helpful in my transition to this new, wonderful position.

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