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A stenographer's union is fighting his removal from Trump's hush money case after he shook the former president's hand following his arraignment

A stenographer's union is fighting his removal from Trump's hush money case after he shook the former president's hand following his arraignment
Former President Donald Trump and defense lawyer Joe Tacopina at Trump's Manhattan arraignment on April 4, 2023.
Former President Donald Trump at his Manhattan arraignment in April.Andrew Kelly/AP
  • A stenographer shook Donald Trump's hand following his April arraignment in Manhattan.

  • Randy Berkowitz later spoke about the experience with a Long Island paper.

  • His union says he was removed from serving on the case for his political views.

A senior court stenographer for the New York Supreme Court was precluded from participating in the Manhattan case against former President Donald Trump, and his union is arguing it's because he told the news he was a registered Republican.

The dispute was revealed in a petition filed by The New York State Unified Court System on Monday, viewed by Business Insider.

Randy Berkowitz was assigned to work Trump's arraignment on April 4, where the former president pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts. The charges are in connection to a $130,000 hush-money payment to the adult film actor Stormy Daniels.

Following the hearing, Berkowitz stood up to shake Trump's hand, CNN noted. He later detailed meeting the former president in an interview.

"I just gave him my card, shook his hand and introduced myself," Berkowitz told Long Island outlet Newsday. "Even though he is a former president, I'm not people-shy, so it doesn't bother me getting up and doing it. … Him in particular, just shaking his hand, and knowing that you're shaking a former president's hand, it was a pretty awesome experience."

Later in the article, Newsday noted that Berkowitz did not want to speak specifically about his political opinions on Trump. Still, Berkowitz noted he was "registered as a Republican."

As a result of the interview, Berkowitz was removed as a stenographer for the Trump case and reassigned to a different case, per court documents.

The court system said it took issue with Berkowitz telling Newsday that he "just wanted Trump in particular to feel comfortable," per the complaint filed Monday.

Following his removal, the Association of Surrogates and Supreme Court Reporters within the City of New York — the union that represents Berkowitz — filed a grievance arguing that his exclusion from Trump's case stemmed from the fact that he was a Republican. Removing him from the case, they said, violated the Constitution and the union's collective bargaining agreement.

The union initially sought for the court to reinstate Berkowitz to the case and award monetary damages, but when its grievance was dismissed, it requested arbitration.

Representatives for The New York State Unified Court System did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. A representative for the union and Berkowitz declined to comment on pending matters.

In a document addressing the union's claims, the court's director of labor relations denied the grievance, writing that removing Berkowitz was not a contract violation and the issue could not be arbitrated as a result.

The New York Unified Court System is now asking a judge to stop the arbitration process and saying that Berkowitz's conduct on April 4 "compromised both security protocols and UCS's appearance of impartiality."

Berkowitz has been a court reporter for over 38 years. He often hands out business cards to people who may want to buy transcripts from him and has previously met high-profile defendants and witnesses.

Read the original article on Business Insider