The Importance of a Court Reporter

To the average person, court reporters might look like someone who is not part of the legal system. They sit at the front of a courtroom or in a deposition and quietly record everything that is being said around them. To anyone who understands the legal system, the court reporter is an essential asset to a case and just as important as the lawyers, judge, jury, and witnesses.  In fact, nearly all cases are required to have a court reporter in the proceeding. Depending on the state and county, a judge might give a lawyer the choice of whether to use a human court reporter or device. Although there are many accurate recording devices, many people opt to use a certified court reporter in addition, or instead of, a recording machine. 

A Court Reporting Transcript

The job of a court reporter in Chicago, IL is to capture a verbatim record of everything said in a courtroom. They typically have extensive training in using a stenotype machine and should be able to record at a minimum of 225 words per minute. A good court reporter should also understand legal terminology, medical terminology, law, courtroom procedures, and other related subjects. 

Once the transcript has been recorded, it will be translated into a written transcript which will then become part of the official record. This transcript may be referred to by the lawyers, prosecutor, jury, judge, or anyone else involved in the case. If the case outcome is appealed, a transcript will become one of the most important resources. Judges will commonly refer to the transcript to decide whether or not an appeal should be granted; therefore, it must be perfect. 

The Presence of a Court Reporter in a Court Reporter
The transcript is not the only thing that makes court reporters so important to a legal proceeding. It is also their presence – which has a psychological effect on those in the courtroom. When people are aware that a court reporter is present, they are more likely to be conscious of the fact that whatever they say will be recorded and could later be used as evidence. 

Despite what might be shown in movies, as in the court reporter remaining silent during their appearance, they tend to have an active role in the proceedings. A court reporter is responsible for the accuracy of the record. As a result, they are able to speak up whenever necessary to ask someone to repeat themselves, remind those on the stand to use words rather than hand gestures, and ensure only one lawyer is speaking at a time. It is also possible for a court reporter to note any emphasis on words or phrases used and to read back some of their recording. 

Technology in the Courtroom

Courtrooms throughout the U.S. have tried to replace human court reporters with various forms of machinery and equipment. This has been done in an attempt to cut litigation costs and budgets; however, it has failed more than been successful. Here’s why technological recording devices don’t work:

  • Possible microphone malfunction
  • Failure to turn on the microphone
  • People not speaking loudly or clear enough for the mic to pick up the sound
  • Background noise (i.e. shuffling papers)
  • Recording systems, upgrades, and maintenance may cost more in the long run

A written transcription must also be included in the case record. This means that an audio recording will need to be transcribed. Not only could this cost more, but it also is likely to produce a result that is less than favorable. 

Thanks to Veritext Legal Solutions for their insight into court reporting services.

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