Who is a Court Reporter?

Court reporters are professionals that make accurate and reliable records of court and other legal proceedings as well as a wide variety of other events. Though the term “court reporter” calls to mind somebody documenting legally oriented proceedings, its use has expanded to encompass many other types of situations. These other applications of courtroom reporting techniques often also go by more specific names, but can be seen as part of the court reporting profession as well. The practices used in courtroom documentation represent a standard that insures the quality of reporting of spoken information. Thus they have been adapted for use with respect to many different occasions that require records to be made in real time and transcripts created from these records.

The simple real time record making process is not all there is to court reporting. There are a variety of duties for which a court reporter is responsible. We’ll take a look at the primary activities and duties of a court reporter in this article. But before getting into that it is important to note that there are three basic types of court reporting: Stenographic reporting, voice writing, and electronic reporting (or audio reporting).

Stenographic reporting involves using a stenotype machine to record speech and other information regarding a legal or other proceeding. This is a keyed machine the use of which allows a reporter to quickly transcribe spoken, gestural, or situational information. Combinations of keys representing words or phrases are pressed by the reporter and the entire process is much faster than typing done with an ordinary computer keyboard.

Voice writing uses a different method along with different technology. In this technique, the reporter speaks into a voice silenced microphone and repeats verbatim what is being said in a proceeding or meeting.

Finally, electronic reporting uses electronic audio recording equipment to simply record meetings and proceedings. The reporter handles and monitors the recording equipment and makes relevant notes to clarify the nature of what is taking place.

So those are the three main reporting/recording methods that capture the initial verbal exchanges and events in court rooms, legal discussions, business meetings, conventions, and a variety of other situations. After the initial stage of a gathering this information, the following are some of the primary duties of a court reporter:

Prepare Record for Legal or Other Purposes

With all three types of court reporting, the initial information must be assembled into a coherent and readable text transcript of the proceedings. This is one of the main duties of a reporter. It represents the final product of the reporting – a full account of what has occurred, both in terms of verbally expressed information and in terms of a general overview and description of the non verbal portions of the event. Testimony of plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses, statements from judges and attorneys, the progression of events in a courtroom, the concerns and agreements during a legal discussion, the statements of corporate goals at a business meeting, the order of speakers at a convention along with their speeches, the resolutions passed at a legislative session, the issues discussed at a board meeting – all of these are faithfully documented by the reporter and assembled into an easy to read report.

Make Copies, Organize Transcripts, Make Available to Public

Once the report has been assembled, the court reporter is also responsible for a variety of organizational tasks. The reporter organizes the transcripts, makes copies, and makes the copies available to a variety of parties such as attorneys, judges, plaintiffs and defendants, and the general public if appropriate.

Assist Attorneys and Judges

Court reporters often also serve as more generalized assistants to attorneys and judges, or those present at other sorts of meetings. In the case of business based meetings, for instance these might be CEOs, managers, and administrative personnel. The court reporter accesses records for these individuals and assists in other informational capacities.

Create and Maintain Computer Dictionary

Different types of proceedings have different associated vocabularies. Often a reporter will maintain a computerized dictionary with specific grammar appropriate to a given event, and will load it into a stenotype machine on a given occasion.

Editing of Text

A court reporter is responsible for simple editing processes such as proof reading documents for grammatical and typographical accuracy.

Proper Name and Place Definition

A thorough transcript needs to have accurate name and place information, and the reporter is responsible for this. They research or cross check name and place identifications to insure they are correct and verifiable.

Making Sure Testimony and Other Speech is Discernable

This is mainly an issue in the case of electronic audio reporting. Before the actual transcript production process, the reporter insures that the testimony is audible and clear. The audio will itself serve as a record along with the transcript, so it is important that the speech on the audio recording is intelligible.

Webcasting

Webcasting is remote captioning provided via the internet for various proceedings, often business meetings. So a reporter involved in this type of work needs to have a good grasp of the related skills.

These are some of the primary duties of a court reporter. Spin off fields such as personal assistance to foreign or deaf people involve other duties such the effective use of Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) and synopses of more informal speech or classroom discussion.