Improvements In Court Reporting Technologies

Technology has impacted the court reporting as much as any other profession of today's age. Many businesses are suffering from the "Technology Overcome," as it has, on the one hand, made lives and processes more comfortable and faster but on the other hand risked the jobs of many individuals. An accurate record of a legal proceeding is vitally crucial as several lives may be linked to it, and a court reporter has the important job of doing this task. Court reporters are an integral part of the judicial system since ages, and they will continue to be so despite the increasing role of technology in this field. 

The job Of A Traditional Court Reporter

Traditionally a court reporter is trained to keep a verbatim record of court hearings, depositions, courtroom proceedings and pre-trial hearings. They not only maintain the record of what is being said in the session or hearing but also perform the following additional tasks as well. 

• Record the expressions, gestures, actions, and identification of the persons(s) speaking 

• To recognize the inaudible or unclear voice and ask for record clarification 

• To repeat a single statement or entire proceeding upon the request of a judge 

Due to fewer people choosing the court reporting profession in recent years and advanced tools available due to digital technology, more and more courtrooms are adopting the new techniques of court reporting. 

Court reporters are not only limited to judicial hearings and courtrooms but also perform duties in other fields which require a record of ongoing proceedings. 

• Convention meetings 
• Stockholder sessions 
• Board of Director session meetings 
• Arbitrations 

Digital Court Reporting – Importance & Limitations

More courts are adopting the digital court reporting systems such as For the Record (FTR) mainly due to two reasons: 

• Digital systems are cost-effective regarding initial and maintenance costs than the average annual salary of a court reporter 

• Court reporters joining this profession are decidedly less than the reporters reaching retirement age, thus making it difficult to meet the demand and supply of the minimum requirement of court reporters. 

Despite that introduction of digital systems is being mostly opposed alike from the judicial community such as judges, attorneys, and court reporters, its introduction is still making gradual progress. A better way to adopt technological changes for the existing legal system and courts reporters is by making themselves conversant and adaptable to these technologies, as no technology can run on itself, so the need of a court reporter will always remain there despite the technological advancements. 

The opposition to adopt new technology is mainly due to the reasons such as. 

1. In the ability of digital systems to the Real-time noise 
2. Technical inherent issues with the digital equipment 
3. Errors occurring due to technological limitations 

Due to the delicate nature and importance of the court record, any small error can affect the lives of some persons. These errors can increase the cost of trials due to any repetition of proceedings which even isn't possible most of the times. Involvement of a court reporter is still there to provide transcription and a written copy of the proceedings. 

Digital Court Reporting Technologies 

Most techniques involve one or a combination of the following processes: 

• Audio/Video Recording 
• Real time Audio/Visual conferencing 
• Conversion software/techniques for audio/visual transcription 
• Online or offline storage 

Real-Time Transcription Software 

Real-time transcription or computer-aided transcription (CAT) software instantly converts the shorthand or audio/video to readable language. Both of this software use different techniques to provide the transcript. One uses keyboard combinations, and the other direction takes the voice as its input, but both produce almost identical text output. 

This is one of the most frequently used technologies these days as attorneys and reporters both are relying on this to get a printable output for the court proceedings. It provides speed, convenience, and accuracy and is most likely to be made a standard in the legal proceedings. 

Video Synchronization Software

Video synchronization software is used to synchronize a case video with its written transcription. Sometimes also referred to as broadcast captioning, video synchronization makes the referencing easier for the legal professionals as they can play a video play just by referencing any text keyword or line. This makes the deposition work more convenient and efficient by the introduction of video and synchronization software. 

Video Conferencing

Videoconferencing is in the field for quite a long time, but recently its use has increased in various capacities. It allows courtrooms, legal firms, experts and attorneys to a remote yet live access to the witnesses, experts and defendants. It is cost effective and time-saving technology for all the stakeholders involved and results in greater convenience for the court proceedings. 

Live video deposition and video conferencing together has made the legal proceedings and lived court reporting task more manageable for the court reporters. Due to its prevalent advantages, the video conferencing software has found its broad utility in the legal reporting field. 

Data Storage and Security

A shift from traditional ways of documentation to digital technology has also made it necessary to provide massive storage and security to the digital data which is of extreme importance for legal proceedings. All data whether it is audio, video or text based needs to be stored in a manner that is not only secure but also convenient for the legal experts and reporters. 

The data in any of its forms should be searchable, secure and reliable. Recent advancements in cloud computing, mass storage devices, and data security algorithms have enabled technology to make this goal achievable. As business technology gets better in these areas and its penetration is increased in the legal reporting field, more sophisticated storage, security, and data indexing are going to be available for court reporters and legal experts. 

Reporting Software (Translation/Editing/Scoping)

This software provides translation and editing features to the court reporters. Editing of a legal transcript (referred to as scoping) and its translation into different languages is required by the reporter sometimes based on the requirements of the legal proceedings. 

There is differently specialized software available for this purpose in professional and regular editions.

I hope you enjoyed this article about the recent improvement in court reporting technologies and the legal implications.

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