A court reporter captures live testimony of courtroom proceedings stenographically. Stenography is one method of court reporting that takes dictation using a stenograph machine. A stenographer is trained to use the shorthand machine to transform oral legal proceedings into an official certified transcript.
Digital reporting captures live testimony using high-tech digital equipment. The recordings are later typed up by a transcriptionist. Courtrooms currently use both types of court reporters for legal proceedings.
What Is Stenography?
Stenography is the process of writing in shorthand and capturing speech in real-time by utilizing a stenograph machine which has 22 keys. The steno machine uses keystrokes to spell out words, phrases, and whole sentences. Stenographers call this writing.
Learning to use the stenography machine isn’t too difficult; however, the job requires the user to work quickly, becoming certified at 225 words per minute and 95% accuracy. It takes some time and practice to build speed and accuracy.
Are Stenographers Specially Trained for Court Reporting?
Anyone considering a stenography career must have certain skills, like attention to detail and listening. Stenographers choosing to work in the legal field must have an interest in stories that make history, appreciation for deadlines, a good grasp of grammar and spelling.
This means courtroom stenographers must learn and understand some legal jargon. It’s essential the court reporter understands every word said during a proceeding. Words matter and can make or break a case.
The court reporter’s job also requires patience and stamina. Court proceedings are often long, and it’s important he or she can maintain concentration to take down all crucial information spoken.
Stenography in Court Reporting
Stenographers are fast and accurate. They capture live testimony of all witnesses. The transcripts include every word lawyers, judges, and others say in the proceeding. This official document becomes part of the official record for court cases.
Stenographers also read back testimony when asked. This is important in clarifying statements made during the proceeding when necessary. Some stenographers provide real-time streaming where you can see immediately a caption of the words spoken and speaker IDs and daily final transcripts.
Digital reporting capture live testimonies using audio equipment. This is as simple as pushing a record button on a machine. It takes less work than using a stenography machine.
A transcriptionist then transcribes the digital recordings into a transcript. However, the digital process of capturing live court proceedings can have its flaws. The recording is only as clear as the audio quality. Distortions and background noise can also create issues with audio recordings.
Transcripts captured from digital recordings often have missing testimony due to garbled speech. Sometimes witnesses and lawyers lower their voices and this causes clarification issues. The transcriber may write “inaudible” where testimony is unclear or “Unknown Speaker” if the speaker name is unidentifyable. However, many courts and lawyers accept digital reporting.
The judicial system relies on the reporters’ accurate account of every word said on the record. The verbatim transcript serves as a legal record of the entire proceeding. A case can be won or lost with what a witness testifies to on the record.
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