Your Not-So-Open Government At Work

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In a court case in Cuyahoga County, Ohio over whether public records should be readily available a county worker spends ten pages worth of court transcript refusing to state that he knows what a photocopier is.

I swear, this is not a Monty Python routine (more at the link):

Marburger: How about this: Have you ever heard the term “photocopier” or “photocopy” used in the Recorder’s office by anybody?

Patterson: Photocopy? I’m sure in the time I’ve been there someone has used the term.

Marburger: And have you ever heard them use it in referencing a particular device or machine within the Recorder’s office? By way of example, “can you photocopy that for me?” That’s an example of office parlance.

Patterson: That particular terminology I’ve not witnessed.

Marburger: What was the context that you’ve heard the term “photocopy” used in the Recorder’s office?

Patterson: I’m sure it’s been used. I didn’t say I remembered a specific instance.

Marburger: All right. But you have a general understanding that people have used the term “photocopy” within the Recorder’s office in terms of something that could be done there; is that true?

Patterson: I’m sure it’s been used. I don’t remember a specific instance or how it was used. I’m sure it’s been used.

Marburger: And is it fair to say that it’s been used in terms of being able to copy one piece of paper onto another piece of paper using a machine? No? Not sure of that?

Patterson: I’m sure it’s been used. I don’t recall a specific instance in which it was.

Marburger: Do you have a secretary?

Patterson: No.

Marburger: Does anybody there have a secretary?

Patterson: Yes.

Marburger: Have you ever heard a secretary use the term “photocopy”?

Patterson: No.

Marburger: Have you ever–do you have machines there where I can put in a paper document, push a button or two, and out will come copies of that paper document also on paper? Do you have such a machine?

Patterson: Yes, sir.

Marburger: What do you call that machine?

Patterson: Xerox.

Marburger: Xerox. Is the machine made by the Xerox Company? Is that why it’s called Xerox?

Patterson: No.

Marburger: So Xerox, in the parlance that you’ve described, the language that you’ve described, is being used generically as opposed to describing a particular brand; is that right?

Patterson: All of my life I’ve just known people to say Xerox. It’s not commonplace to use the terminology that you’re using.

Marburger: You mean it’s more — people say Xerox instead of photocopy?

Patterson: If you’re referring to a type of machine where you place a piece of paper on the top and press a button and out comes copies of it, they usually refer to it as a Xerox.

Marburger: Have you ever heard it referred to as photocopying?

Patterson: Not with my generation, no.

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