Most people have heard of court reporters, but what exactly do they do for the courts? Here is how court reporters prepare transcripts for production.
You've seen the dramatic scene in a movie or on TV when the courtroom scene cuts to the court reporter asked to read back riveting testimony to create a landmark moment in a case.
While the work of court reporters might not always have such dramatic moments, creating an exact record of what was said in a courtroom is critically important for various legal proceedings.
Have you ever wondered how a court reporter can capture all the spoken words in a court case without missing a beat or asking someone to repeat what they just said?
Read on to learn more about the role of a court reporter in a legal case and how they capture the spoken word so accurately and quickly, too.
What Does a Court Reporter Do?
Court reporters, sometimes called stenographers or Certified Shorthand Reporters (CSRs), are responsible for accurately recording information.
A court reporter has the skill and ability to take the spoken word they hear and convert it into information that can be read. This information can then also be searched and archived as part of the court recordings.
Their role is to create an impartial and verbatim document from the spoken words during a court hearing or deposition. What the court reporter records become part of the official court documents, recording the exact legal process.
If a court case gets a result, one of the litigants can use the transcripts from the court reporter to create their cause for appeal.
If a case is in discovery, then the attorneys might be doing depositions. These recordings can help a legal team prepare a case for trial. Accuracy from the court reporter is a must.
How Does a Court Reporter Transcribe?
Being a court reporter requires a unique set of skills. First, they must listen and process the spoken word and who says it. Then, at the same time, they transcribe those words to be later translated into the fully spoken version.
Court reporters used to use shorthand and write it as they took down the information. Paper and pen were then set aside for the stenotype machine.
Now, to be a court reporter, you must receive unique training in several areas. You must understand legal terminology and the legal process.
Specialized transcription equipment now records what the court reporter puts into the machine in a digital format.
Why Is Transcription Accuracy So Important?
Whether a transcription is being recorded outside a courtroom or during a court proceeding, in most cases, there's a record of it in today's world. Often there's video documentation.
But a court reporter that works to prepare transcripts will create the official documentation of the legal proceeding. The court reporter is responsible for ensuring that the information is accurate and organized in a way that is easily accessible later on.
This means the court reporter has to keep track of what people say. It also means any exhibits that enter a hearing must be documented and organized for easy retrieval.
Appellate courts will find the accuracy and organization of a case particularly relevant. Judges often need to pull transcripts to read to decide if a case can stand for appeal.
When Will Transcriptions Be Used?
You've seen enough courtroom television to understand how a courtroom transcription gets used. A judge might request the court reporter to read back a piece of testimony.
There are other times when a transcription might be used, including:
- Custody hearings
- Conference calls
- Witness statements
- Client meetings
Law students might even be required to read transcripts of cases to better understand legal strategy and process.
Most courtrooms and judges now require a certified transcript. A lawyer working to appeal a case may order a certified transcript. The company and/or court reporter will stand behind its accuracy.
If they provide a certified transcript, it means they would be willing to stand behind the accuracy and would be willing to testify in court to its accuracy.
Role of Transcriptions in Helping to Organize a Case
If you've ever hired a lawyer, you know it can be costly. Attorneys don't need to spend their valuable time wading through transcripts that are not organized, indexed, and labeled accurately.
When an attorney or a judge requests a transcript, they are typically looking for some piece of information it holds. It's key that the transcript, evidence, and exhibits that are a part of the case get well organized for easy retrieval.
The court reporter may use exhibit tabs, transcript covers, and index tabs to help organize the information in printed form.
If a certified transcript is requested and it's the verbatim transcript from the courtroom, the transcriptionist not only records the spoken word but nonverbal actions as well. This would include long pauses, ums, ahs, or stutters too.
Role of Court Reporters in Producing a Transcript
It's good to understand the steps a court reporter goes through once they have recorded or transcribed a hearing or deposition.
Once that step gets done, the court reporter will reread the transcript and translate the information. They will look for words that don't translate, add punctuation, and check the spelling of proper names.
At this point, they will add any descriptions and page locations for evidence or exhibits from the proceeding.
Then appropriate title pages and an index to the information are also created for easy access to information.
Get Accurate and Organized Records for Your Legal Events
The role of court reporters in documenting the events that happen in legal proceedings is key to the overall legal process. They are documenting the legal process in case it needs revisiting later.
To learn more about how ExhibitIndexes.com can help you organize information, contact us here for more information.