Did you know that there is more than one method of court reporting? Depending on which region of the country you practice in, you might think a certain type of court reporter is "normal."
In military courtrooms and throughout the South, it's not uncommon to see voice writers. In most other areas of the country, stenotype reporters make up the vast majority of court reporters. Increasingly, electronic (digital) court reporters are joining the landscape throughout the country.
No matter their method, court reporters are charged with capturing and creating an accurate, verbatim record of the proceedings and are held to the same code of ethics. National professional organizations provide certification testing and continuing education for their members.
1. Stenotype reporters use phonetic shorthand and a specialized keyboard to capture the proceedings. A computer-aided transcription program then translates the shorthand into English, which the reporter edits and proofreads to create the verbatim record.
2. Voice writers dictate the proceedings verbatim into a Stenomask, which is connected to a digital recording device. There are large masks, which cover the reporter's nose, and mini masks, which only cover their mouth. They are trained to speak in a low voice - not a whisper - at such a level that the recording equipment picks it up but others in the room cannot hear them. The digital file is either translated using voice recognition technology or transcribed to create the final transcript.
3. Electronic court reporters use specialized software and high-quality audio-visual equipment to record testimony. The software allows them to record each speaker's audio feed on a separate track to ensure complete accuracy of the transcript. Electronic reporters also take contemporaneous notes of the proceedings within the software, which are then linked to that spot in the audio record.
Some attorneys or judges prefer one method over another, but when it comes to the finished product, the certified transcript, one method isn't more reliable or accurate than another.
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