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Court Reporters: Nature of Work

April 12,2010 by: Dallas Browne

Court reporters record what is going on in the legal realm by creating word for word transcript of conversations, speeches, meetings, legal events and other proceedings. These accounts of spoken words that are put in black and white are sometimes essential for communication, preservation, or legal testimony and court reporters furnish those accounts. There is a vital role played by a court reporter not only in legal proceedings but also at every gathering where word spoken must be recorded as a written transcript. Their responsibilities also include making certain that there is an accurate, secure and complete legal record.

Aside from providing protection for the legal record, court reporters also render assistance to judges and trial attorneys in various ways such as managing and looking for information in the official record or giving suggestions to attorneys and judges concerning administration and procedure in the courtroom. There is also an increasing trend for court reporters to provide services to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community through real-time translating and closed-captioning. Court reporting involves several methods but the most familiar is the stenographic method. This method makes use of a stenotype machine and stenotypists use this to record all speeches uttered in official proceedings.

Electronic reporting is another court reporting method where audio equipments are used to record proceedings in the court. This method leaves the court reporter to take notes to identify speakers, monitor the process, and listen to the recording to make its clearness and quality guaranteed. This method may include the use of such equipments as an analog tape recorder or some high-end digital equipment. It is usually the responsibility of transcribers and electronic reporters to produce a written transcript or hard copy of the detailed proceeding.

Still among other court reporting methods is voice writing where the court reporter directly speaks into a voice silencer which is a hand-held mask with a microphone inside. The reporter repeats every word uttered in a testimony into the recorder while the mask keeps the reporter from drawing attention to him self by masking the noise he makes while a testimony is being delivered. Everything that is said by attorneys, judges, witnesses, and other participants to a proceeding, including emotional reactions and gestures are recorder by voice writers. The written transcripts of what transpired during the proceeding are prepared soon after based on the recordings.

There are many of responsibilities that court reporters hold pre- and post- transcribing the events. For the voice-writing or stenographic reporters, their duties include making and maintaining the computer dictionary that they refer to in translating the soft copy of the recordings into written texts. In creating the dictionary, they may customize it with entire words, parts of words, or jargons specific to the proceeding, agenda, or incidents that they are planning to transcribe. As soon as they document the proceeding, stenographic reporters have to do the editing of translations generated by the computer to make sure that the grammar is correct. It is the responsibility of all reporters to accurately identify names and places properly. An electronic reporter ensures that the record of testimony is apparent. Generally, reporters prepare written transcripts, provide information, and make copies from the transcript to counsels, courts, parties, and the public upon request. Court reporters are also the ones in charge of developing ways for storing and retrieving all audio recordings and stenographic notes, which are in hardcopy or soft copy format, easily.

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