Court reporters are a vital part of any courtroom, but have you ever stopped to think about what their job actually entails? A court reporter transcribes cases that go to trial, but their job function goes beyond the stereotype of someone sitting in a corner clacking away on a stenography machine. Here are a few of the responsibilities of a court reporter, and the qualities necessary to excel in this exciting career field.
Documents courtroom proceedings
The main function of a court reporter is to utilize technology like a stenography machine or even transcription software and audio recording devices to create a properly-written document housing all spoken parts of a trial. Sometimes, court reporters also use shorthand then type up their notes at the end of each day. This may include witness testimonies and depositions as well as hearings and arbitration sessions. These records can be used in lengthy trials as evidence, and may be referenced or requested by judges or attorneys throughout the case to establish an objective baseline of the proceedings. Oftentimes, a judge or someone like a personal injury lawyer will call upon the court reporter to make sure that a witness isn’t contradicting something which they’ve previously said, committing perjury.
Addresses accessibility needs with CART and closed captions
The court reporters’ skills for creating written documentation of what was said in the courtroom also has other applications, particularly in situations where members of the jury or witnesses are hard of hearing or deaf. There are two primary ways that court reporters do this: Via closed captioning, or through CART, or Communication Access Real-time Translation. Closed captioning is similar to the subtitles you sometimes see in movies, and can be a great way for those with hearing impairments to understand what is being said in the courtroom as well as in any videos used as evidence. CART, on the other hand, is a bit more involved and has applications outside of the courtroom, although it still calls upon the same skillset as court reporting. In fact, Many court reporters find extra work performing these sorts of tasks when they aren’t on a case. CART can be used in a variety of locations when having a single speaker such as a lecturer, teacher, or priest would be helpful for those with hearing impairments.
What makes a good court reporter
While there are certainly some hard skills necessary in order to become a court reporter, the soft skills are equally important. Someone who is an adept listener and has good concentration is an apt choice for the field of court reporting. It can also help to know specific legal jargon and how courtrooms operate, as that ensures you will never miss a word during the proceedings. Typing is also a vital skill if you’re interested in court reporting. In fact, some reporters will need to type at over 200 words a minute in order to keep up with a speaker. Many times, courtrooms will also call upon a court reporter who is able to understand local dialects and also has an understanding of local laws, so if you’re a court reporter in Miami, you’ll want to brush up on your knowledge of the Floridian legal system.
If you’re interested in the legal system and want to pursue a career that gets you in the courtroom without requiring massive student loans or an advanced degree, court reporting can be a great field to get into. With average salaries of ranging from $30,000 to $98,000, depending on your location, it may be worth taking specialized courses to become a court reporter.