Reporting for Duty
Learn about the many duties of a court reporter
When most people imagine any sort of court case, they probably think about the different people involved: the lawyers talking about evidence or examining witnesses, the black-robed judge glaring down from the bench, perhaps even the jury eagerly listening to everything. But the person who often gets overlooked is the court reporter.
Though they rarely get a lot of attention, court reporters play vital roles during trials and other legal proceedings. But what do they do exactly? Here are their main tasks and why they are so important:
Ensuring testimony is accurate
The main duty of a court reporter is to get a precise recording of the proceeding. They need to make sure every word is heard accurately and taken down. This is why actual people are almost always preferred in this capacity; technology has come a long way, but humans are still better.
Keeping things moving
Court reporters may just be thought of as silent members of a courtroom typing away, but they often play an active part in a trial or hearing. Frequently, they have to ask speakers to talk louder or more clearly. They need to remind people to respond verbally instead of using gestures. And when the judge wants something to be read back, they have to be able to find it quickly.
Doing the necessary research
A court reporter has to be prepared. Depending upon the circumstances, testimony from a previous case may need to be obtained, and it is the court reporter’s job to locate these documents in a timely manner.
Preparing the transcript
Perhaps the most critical element of a legal procedure is the transcript. During a trial or deposition, a court reporter uses a special machine to take down everything. But unlike a computer or typewriter, it uses shorthand. When the proceedings are finished, the court reporter then has to translate it into language anyone can understand. But that is just the first step; there is also:
- Editing – Even after a transcript is translated, it often has to be edited to ensure that everything is accurate and makes sense.
- Filling in the blanks – This could include researching names to confirm they are spelled correctly or clarifying any references that may be ambiguous.
- Proofreading – Once a transcript is complete, it will be printed. But the process isn’t over yet; it will then be looked at thoroughly to see if there are any errors.
- Corrections – If something does need to be fixed, it will get taken care of and then the finalized transcripts will be printed again.
- Assembly – The court reporter will have to make the necessary number of copies and then collate and bind the transcript.
- Certification – Most jurisdictions require that every transcript gets certified to guarantee that it is true and accurate.
- Delivery – While a court reporter probably won’t be the one delivering the transcript, they do have to ensure it gets to the right people, and usually time is of the essence.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of what a court reporter does and why they are valuable members of the legal profession. If you need to hire an experienced reporter for a trial, hearing, meeting, arbitration, or anything else, you can count on Boss Reporting. We employ dozens of Certified Realtime Reporters who have years of training and regularly expand their knowledge and skills through continuous education.