The Pros and Cons of Having a Court Reporter

by Amy Nutt

In any court proceeding, lawyers depend on witnesses to tell the truth about the facts of the case so that the jurors can make the best decision about the outcome of the case. This is what makes the justice system efficient and how it is supposed to work for the betterment of all involved. Unfortunately, sometimes witnesses fail to tell the entire truth or lawyers get too caught up in winning to have an honest trial for the accused. In these cases, it is up to the jury to determine who is credible and what kind of judgment is best suited based on the details of the case.

One way that the legal system is assisted with the process of determining accurate justice is by employing the services of a skilled court reporter. The court reporter is a highly-trained person who creates a written disposition of the actual spoken proceedings of the case. The court reporter may use a special dictation device, called a stenographic, to type rapidly verbatim each thing that the parties on either side discuss about the case, in real time. In other court cases, the court reporter remotely transcribes the court proceedings as they are recorded in an audio format using a special transcription device or software operated on a secure computer system.

They may also listen in by live or delayed telephone feed the spoken testimony or disposition of the witnesses or accused. The court reporter may never have any personal contact with the parties of either case and this is generally the preferred method of court reporting today.

The court reporter is trained to listen carefully to all the nuances of the speech patterns that belong to the different members of the courtroom- this is a skill that only practiced court reporters have. Often during cases, the court reporter will be able to pick up on who is telling the truth and who is lying. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on if the court reporter shows any reaction or hesitates in front of the judge or jurors. A good court reporter remains neutral and blends into the background. This helps to retain a professional atmosphere in which the legal process must perform for all.

Because the records that the court reporter processes go into the permanent legal records of the case, it is beneficial if the records are 100% accurate. Depending on who is using the records, and for what purpose, this can be a positive or negative thing. The court records provided by a professional court reporter are considered an accurate record of the court proceedings and this remains in effect for the life of the case, no matter how old it is or the results.

In most cases, the invaluable work that court reporters do everyday is what assists legal professionals in helping innocent people retain their freedom and puts the real criminals behind bars. So in most cases, a skilled court reporter is a very valuable member of the legal team.

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