Since the earliest days of our justice system, court reporting in some way, shape or form, has been a crucial part of the legal process. Going from inkwells and feather pens to video conferencing and cloud-based transcripts, one might wonder if technology will replace the need for court reporters in the courtroom or depositions. The answer would be that technology actually makes court reporters more indispensable now than ever to our legal system.
At the very core, a court reporter’s role is to make an exact record of what was said during a legal proceeding. It’s their responsibility to generate a complete, exact and secure legal transcript of courtroom proceedings, testimonies and depositions. The technology used today is a tool that helps court reporters fulfill their role and responsibility. Tool is the operative word.
Just as a hammer can’t swing itself, a court-reporting tool can’t operate on its own. Some court systems and attorneys learned the hard way that technology cannot replace the human element. In an effort to cut costs, some moved away from court reporters and turned to digital recorders. After trial and error, they moved back to court reporters again after suffering from a variety of problems associated with digital recorders, such as the disturbing loss of nearly 100 grand jury indictments in Hawaii due to a tape recorder system malfunction. Not to mention court personnel forgetting to turn on the digital recorders, as well as recordings full of inaudible sections and even long gaps. The consequences are devastating. If transcripts or records from a previous proceeding aren’t available or inaudible, the entire case or appeal can be delayed, thrown out or forced to start from scratch.
Technical problems associated with using recording technology are just the tip of the iceberg. The human element cannot be underestimated. Court reporters often act as moderators in a sense. They can ask speakers to speak up, slow down, repeat or clarify their words, stop speaking over one another, and read back what was said to ensure accuracy. Court reporters also understand dialect and regional accents in order to produce an accurate word-by-word record of all that was said during a proceeding.
Rather than being replaced by technology, Cooper Litigation Service’s court reporters use it as our main tool in delivering quality service. We have several offices located across the Kansas City area, all connected via web-based technology, including our phone system. Our court reporters use proven technology, including exhibit-based Zoom video conferencing, which stores video conferences in the cloud for immediate access, saves money on travel expenses and allows people to work remotely, which can save time.
Court reporting, in one form or another, has been around as long as the legal system and it’s not going anywhere. That’s not to say that changes aren’t in the future, which is why court reporters must be adaptable to continue to meet the needs of attorneys and courts we serve.
If you’re thinking about a career in court reporting, being a technology native is an advantage. There is high demand for conscientious court reporters, including here at Cooper Litigation Services. Visit our careers page to learn more information.