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Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters and Certified Legal Video, LLC, has been called Nebraska and Iowa's number one reporting firm. First established in 1977 by John and Gretchen Thomas, Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters is a court reporting firm run and operated by court reporters with experience. Through John and Gretchen's efforts, Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters has established itself as a leader in court reporting and legal technology. Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters works with an unparalleled team of professional court reporters holding numerous national and local certifications, ensuring clients receive a timely, accurate and professionally prepared transcript.

Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters offers cutting-edge reporting and legal services such as high-definition videoconferencing, realtime reporting, and streaming realtime to iPads. With over 35 years of experience and a great deal of passion for the profession, Thomas & Thomas understands and appreciates the demands law firms face each day. Our staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and committed to helping you.

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Throwback Thursday: Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Provides Videoconference for Warren Buffett's Trial Testimony

Throwback Thursday:  Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Provides Videoconference for Warren Buffett's Trial Testimony

"Three weeks into Brendsel's trial on administrative charges, Buffett's testimony by video link was the most vivid, yet. The Berkshire Hathaway chairman, who is a member of the board of The Washington

Post Co., sat at a table against a wrinkled gray backdrop, a Coke bottle in easy reach and looked into the lens. Brendsel and other participants in the proceeding watched Buffett on big-screen televisions in a richly paneled Washington courtroom."

 

On October 30, 2007, Warren E. Buffett testified about how he saw early signs of Freedie Mac's woes.  However, he did not do so live.  He did so from the offices of Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters and Certified Legal Video, LLC.  In an attempt to accommodate Mr. Buffett's busy schedule, his staff asked that Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters provide a videoconference feed between our office in Omaha, Nebraska and the Washington courtroom.  Below is an article by the Washington Post about Mr. Buffett's testimony and the underlying videoconference that Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters provided.

 

Buffett Testifies That He Saw Early Signs of Freddie Mac's Woes


By David S. Hilzenrath
Washington Post StaffW1iter
Wednesday, October 31, 2007; D03

 

Billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett sat in front of a video camera in Omaha, spelled his name for the record and minced no words as he testified for the government yesterday in its case against former Freddie Mac chief executive Leland C. Brendsel.


Brendsel is accused of presiding over accounting manipulations and running Freddie Mac in a reckless manner. Buffett, one of the most successful and revered investors, sold a huge stake in the mortgage funding company before the manipulations came to light, and the government wanted him to explain why.


Buffett said he was troubled in part by a Freddie Mac investment that had nothing to do with its business.


"I follow the old dictum: There's never just one cockroach in the kitchen," Buffett said.


The government is trying to show that Brendsel's promises of double-digit earnings growth set Freddie Mac on a dangerous path, and Buffett said they were another key reason he sold.


Sometimes, when executives offer earnings projections and cannot make the numbers, "they start making up the numbers," he said.


Trying to deliver smoothly increasing earnings "can lead to a lot of trouble in any company," and it is "unachievable" at a company like Freddie Mac, whose business is inherently unpredictable, Buffett testified.

 

Under cross-examination by an attorney for Brendsel, Buffett acknowledged that many companies offered earnings projections, including two big companies where he has been a director, Coca-Cola and

Gillette.


He agreed that his antipathy for the practice was a minority view among professional investors. Asked to read aloud from Freddie Mac annual reports, he showed that the McLean company had been predicting "mid-teens" earnings growth years before he began liquidating his stake.


Three weeks into Brendsel's trial on administrative charges, Buffett's testimony by video link was the most vivid, yet. The Berkshire Hathaway chairman, who is a member of the board of The Washington
Post Co., sat at a table against a wrinkled gray backdrop, a Coke bottle in easy reach and looked into the lens. Brendsel and other participants in the proceeding watched Buffett on big-screen televisions in a richly paneled Washington courtroom.


Because the case involves regulatory rather than criminal charges, Brendsel is not at risk of going to prison. He is trying to avoid liabilities and penalties that could exceed $1 billion.


With a fortune estimated at $52 billion, Buffett, known by admirers as the Sage of Omaha, ranked second on Forbes magazine's latest list of the richest Americans. Buffett has pledged the vast majority of
his wealth to the philanthropic foundation run by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, who topped the list with $59 billion, and Oates's wife Melinda, also a member of the Post Co. board.


Buffett said he bought stock in Freddie Mac in the 1980s because "it looked ridiculously cheap." He said his company became one of Freddie Mac's largest shareholders before it began liquidating its stake in the late 1990s at an eventual profit of about $2.75 billion.


Buffett said he met with Brendsel and former Freddie Mac president David W. Glenn five or six times over the years at Brendsel's request, initially at a summer house Buffett had in Laguna Beach, Calif.
Brendsel requested and followed some of his recommendation whom Freddie Mac should appoint to its board, Buffett said.


Buffet said he became troubled when Freddie Mac made an investment unrelated to its mission. He wasn't clear on the specifics but said he "didn't think that made any sense at all" and "was concerned
about what they might be doing ... that I didn't know about."


Achieving "mid-teens" earnings growth "seemed to become more and more a mantra of the organization," giving him greater cause for concern, Buffett said.


Buffett said he reviewed Freddie Mac's annual reports every year he held stock in the company. Presented with excerpts from reports for as early as 1992, he agreed with Brendsel's lead attorney, Kevin
M. Downey, that he held onto his shares while Freddie Mac repeatedly affirmed its earnings goals. Buffett said he thought he expressed his concern to Brendsel in several conversations but added that he
didn't keep notes or a diary and couldn't recall details.


Downey said the specific wording about mid-teens earnings growth did not appear in a disclosure Freddie Mac filed in 2001, but Buffett rejected the implicit suggestion that Brendsel was responding
appropriately to his concern.


"He may have seen the writing on the wall," Buffett said.


Downey suggested that Freddie Mac properly tempered its projections, pointing to warnings in an annual report that its earnings could be affected by various adverse developments. Buffett said the
cautionary words were merely legal boilerplate.


"I would not be particularly impressed by them," he said.


Asked by the judge, William B. Moran, whether he felt his concerns were vindicated, Buffett said, "I think they were fully vindicated."

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