Facing an ongoing shortage of court reporters to fill open positions, officials in the state of Wisconsin are in the process of outfitting every courtroom in the state with digital court reporting equipment.
The courthouse in Columbia County will be one of the first to receive the new equipment. Circuit Court Judge Andrew Voigt explained the urgency behind the move:
“There is a very significant percentage of court reporters in the state of Wisconsin eligible to retire in the next five years, dramatically more than are graduating from court reporting schools in Wisconsin. There is no conceivable way that the graduates could fill all of what will be open spaces.”
The County’s Management Information Services director noted that the only cost to the county related to equipment will be the $16,000 required to upgrade wiring in the courtrooms to accommodate the systems. But, the county wants to make sure it can always provide services to its residents.
“This is a response to (an expected shortage of court reporters), because we as a court system don’t ever want to be in a position where we can’t hold court because we are missing personnel.”
Many attorneys aren’t big fans of audio or video courtrooms and are sometimes hesitant to use digital reporters, mistakenly believing that digital reporters aren't held to the same professional standards and ethics as stenographic court reporters or that they aren’t able to produce quality transcripts. Steve Townsend, blogging at Law.com, said that’s simply not the case:
“The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT)offers certification for digital court reporters and transcribers nationwide. A certified electronic reporter, or CER, must demonstrate professional knowledge and skills in the use of modern digital recording technologies, court reporting rules and procedures, legal vocabulary and best practices for annotations and exhibit management.
“The current [court reporting] market turmoil is certainly not the first time that a traditional service has been disrupted by a new method, and it won’t be the last. The robustness and reliability of digital recording technology are self-evident. You record audio and video every day on your phone, your television and your computer. The legitimate concern with the transition to digital reporting of depositions has related to the person behind the recorder. The good news is that we already have a well-developed professional community with certifications and best practices ready to support you.”
Fortunately for residents of Columbia County, statements from officials to local press seem indicate that they understand the need to have a trained digital court reporter operating the equipment:
“While the system is meant to fill gaps in the absence of a court reporter, it will not eliminate the need for someone to operate the computer system used to record, and create transcripts from the recordings nor will it eliminate all court reporter positions throughout the state.
“[Circuit Court Judge] Voigt said this person will likely be a state employee, with similar duties to a court reporter, such as ensuring the recording equipment is operating properly, the recording is clear and understandable and creating a transcript of the recording.”
The state will be responsible for archiving and managing the recordings, and making them available to litigants.
Legal Media Experts has always been an early adopter of emerging technologies. As such, our professional digital court reporters have years of experience and are ready to handle any deposition, hearing, or mediation situation. To schedule your next deposition, use our handy online scheduling tool or call 800-446-1387. Our scheduling experts are ready to answer any of your questions.