Tearful court reporter Traci Ann Turoski thanked the judge for jailing her the last six weeks, saying it saved her life, and promised to complete transcripts that she had failed to produce for months, landing her in contempt of court.
During a hearing Friday morning, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley sentenced Turoski to house arrest, treatment for her mental-health and possible substance-abuse problem, and fines and court costs totaling more than $4,000.
Turoski, 41, of Ridley Park, owes less than 500 pages in testimony, covering three cases, said her attorney, Christian J. Hoey. A condition of her sentence is that she produce the work, which will offset some of her court fine.
Brinkley initially requested that Turoski complete the transcripts in April. In July, she ordered Turoski to produce them. In October, Turoski was threatened with a contempt-of-court charge if she failed to comply within two weeks.
On Nov. 9, Turoski was late to court, looked disheveled, and appeared intoxicated, according to court records and statements. She still had not done the work.
That was when Brinkley jailed her. In the last week, the court allowed Turoski to use her equipment while in detention to work on the transcripts, Hoey said.
Brinkley asked Turoski if she had anything to say. Turoski stood.
"I just want to apologize to you and the court," said Turoski, a petite woman who wore a pale-colored jacket and had her blond hair pulled back in a ponytail. "Everybody's been really patient with me. I should have done the work.
"I was wrong, and I'm sorry. . . . I want to do better."
Turoski, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, said she would get her medication adjusted.
"I promise it will never, ever happen again," she said. "I also want to thank you . . . Putting me in jail for six weeks saved my life."
Turoski, formerly a court reporter in Chester County, according to her attorney, had been working for Philadelphia County on a per-diem basis.
The prosecutor on the case told the court that Turoski appeared to be a "dual diagnosis" of mental-health and substance-abuse problems.
Hoey, however, said that Turoski's problem was solely mental and that her condition caused the poor job performance.
"I don't think this is a job she probably should have ever had," he said in court.
Brinkley said Turoski had used drugs in the past and ordered a dual-diagnosis evaluation.
She sentenced Turoski with contempt for failing to follow the October order and for the Nov. 9 court appearance.
Among the work that Turoski owes is a transcript from the August 2010 trial of David Rosario, who was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to prison. That case is on appeal, which makes the transcript especially important, Brinkley said.
Given the sentence Brinkley imposed, Turoski will be home for Christmas. She was due to be paroled Friday and has two weeks to set up house arrest.
Because she lives in Delaware County, she must find a friend or family member in Philadelphia to stay with while serving her house arrest sentence, which will run for one month and 15 days. At first she and her fiance said through Hoey that would be a hardship, but Turoski then said she knew someone she could stay with.
A hearing to update the case was set for Feb. 28.