Court reporters can be an essential component of any courtroom or legal setting, especially when it comes to criminal cases. Criminal cases are sensitive in nature, and the attorneys on either side can benefit from being able to revisit testimony within a transcript. A court reporter may use a variety of techniques to accurately and quickly record what is being said in the courtroom, deposition, or other legal proceeding. Many court reporters are also experienced in certain areas of law, and can document verbal accounts with a very small percentage of error.
If you are facing a criminal case whether on the plaintiff or the defendant’s side, it is a priority to hire a knowledgeable and trained court reporter.
Types of Court Reporting Methods
The two most common ways that court reporters transcribe is through a stenotype machine or stenomask recorder. Firstly, a stenotype machine produces phonetic codes that relate to sound. The court reporter uses their left hand to type consonant sounds, the thumbs for vowel sounds, and the right hand to record the final consonant sounds. With this set-up, court reporters can keep up with the conversations at fast speeds. The court reporter is required to identify who the speakers are as statements are being said, in addition to reactions and gestures.
Secondly, a court reporter may use a stenomask recorder instead of a stenotype machine. This is opposite from the stenotype machine in that it uses voice commands instead of typing. The stenomask rests over the court reporter’s mouth, which he or she speaks into, copying what is said in the courtroom verbatim.
Creating an Unbiased Transcript
Needless to say, criminal cases can be intensely emotional and people tend to have strong opinions on illegal behavior and subsequent punishments. A court reporter is to be a neutral party and not make any facial expressions or gestures that imply feelings about what is shared by the accused, or determined by a judge or jury. The ability to remain unbiased is so important to the official complete transcript. A court reporter must not let their feelings tarnish the truth of what happened in the courtroom.
A Court Reporter’s Discretion
A court reporter who writes an official record for a criminal case must use discretion. In fact, the court reporter is not permitted to speak about the case to anyone inside or outside of the courtroom. If the court reporter were to share details of what occurred or was said, this could have a drastic effect on the public’s response and may interfere with the case. When choosing the right court reporter, consider looking for the following characteristics and education:
- Having completed classes, education, schooling, or training specifically for court reporting on the federal and state level
- A desire to continue expanding knowledge on court reporting and legal terminology for criminal cases
- Capability to transcribe at a rapid rate (180-225 WPM) without interrupting the court, unless when absolutely necessary
- Maintaining a level of professionalism and neutrality during a potentially emotional criminal case