What is a Court Reporter?

A court reporter uses a stenotype machine to capture exactly how everything is said during a court proceeding, and then delivers the transcripts of the proceedings.

The purpose of a court reporter is to make sure that everyone's rights are protected during a legal process, whether it be in public hearings, tribunals, inquiry boards, in courts, or in legislative assemblies and committees.

This career offers such a huge variety of subject matter that it makes it one of the most interesting professions out there!

What does a Court Reporter do?

An image of a court reporter typing on a steno machine.

Court reporters record and transcribe spoken or recorded speech during a legal proceeding into written form. By using shorthand or voice writing equipment, they create word-for-word documentation of witness statements, high profile criminal trials, conferences, hearings, pre-trial depositions, meetings, and arbitration sessions.

Lawyers and judges often rely on court reporters to verify testimony, therefore accurate transcriptions are imperative for legal records and documentation. There are some court reporters that are particularly skilled in providing instant transcripts while legal proceedings are still taking place; this is especially helpful to people who are deaf or hearing impaired.

A court reporter will often be called upon to read back verbatim statements or evidence during legal proceedings.

Are you suited to be a court reporter?

Court reporters have distinct personalities. They tend to be conventional individuals, which means they’re conscientious and conservative. They are logical, efficient, orderly, and organized. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

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What is the workplace of a Court Reporter like?

Court reporters can work in a variety of places, such as in courts or legislatures for local or state governments. Some do freelance work outside the courtroom for things that require official legal transcript.

Some court reporters work outside of the legal arena to provide real-time closed/broadcast captioning services to a broadcast network during sporting events, political speeches, live entertainment events, conventions, and conferences. Those working in broadcast captioning may work out of a central office or their home.

Court reporters are also employed by television stations in order to provide real time closed captioning for the deaf and hearing impaired.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a court reporter and a CART provider?

CART providers (Communication Access Realtime Transcription or Computer-Assisted Real-Time) and court reporters both use the same equipment and software, but CART providers always work in realtime for a primarily deaf and hard of hearing clientele, whereas court reporters work for attorneys or judges in courts of law or deposition rooms. They sometimes employ realtime, but their primary responsibility is to take down a full and complete record to be edited, printed, and sold to clients. They are paid a fee per appearance and a somewhat higher fee if they offer realtime feeds, but most of their income comes from transcript sales.

CART providers, on the other hand, work primarily to provide a realtime feed that is as complete and readable as possible, so they charge a higher hourly fee than court reporters, but far less for transcripts, if they choose to provide them. For them, transcripts are a by-product of their work, and their transcripts, unlike those produced by court reporters, are not certified verbatim. Often CART providers will offer complimentary or low-cost transcripts to the students whose classes they transcribe, with the understanding that the student will use the transcripts only to study from, and will not distribute them to anyone else. For reasons of liability, CART providers for large events will generally not offer transcripts; if a transcript is required, it's usually advisable to hire a court reporter in addition to a CART provider.

In an ideal situation, a CART provider's transcript will be 100% verbatim, just like a court reporter's transcript, and both realtime feeds will be identical. When push comes to shove, though, the court reporter will let their realtime feed fill up with sloppy or untranslated steno code to clean up later, rather than risk missing a word in the final transcript. The CART provider will make sure that the realtime feed stays legible, even if that means paraphrasing slightly or omitting redundant words. They're both working toward the same goal, but the court reporter always gives deference to the final edited transcript, and the CART provider to the immediate realtime feed. The National Court Reporters Association offers membership and certification to CART providers and captioners as well as court reporters, and many NCRA members provide both captioning/CART and court reporting services.

Reference: StenoKnight

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Court Reporters are also known as:
Court Stenographer Law Reporter Stenotype Operator Shorthand Reporter