Court Reporting Terms
22 November 2022

Court Reporting Terms

Are you new to the United States legal system? Or looking to brush up on the basics that every person involved in a trial should know? Whatever the case may be, we’ve got your covered! In this blog post, we will discuss Court reporting and highlight the ten important court reporting terms you should know.

What Is Court Reporting?

Court reporting is the capture and preservation of a record of what transpired during a legal proceeding, whether it be a deposition, hearing, arbitration, or trial.  A court reporter, also known as a stenographer or Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSRs), is the person who completes the court reporting. Court reporters are trained professionals who operate special devices that make these detailed transcripts possible. The device mainly used by court reporters is a stenograph. Similar to a typewriter, a stenograph has a keyboard with only twenty-two keys representing a mixture of consonants and vowels. The court reporter uses this device to capture all noises within the room such as words and bodily sounds. They often times also record facial expressions and movements by members of the court that could play a part in the case.  In the end, the desired deliverable from a court reporter is a verbatim script of the proceeding that can then be used as evidence in a trial. 

Terms To Know

Studying law can certainly be overwhelming, as everything is deemed important to know. Below, we’ve highlighted the ten most important court reporting terms anyone in the industry should be familiar with.

  • Stenograph (aka steno machine, stenotype machine, shorthand machine, or steno) - Any of various keyboard instruments, somewhat resembling a typewriter, used for writing in shorthand, as by means of phonetic or arbitrary symbols.
  • Annotations - Notes captured by the court reporter during a proceeding.
  • Timestamp - A record of the time on all new lines of annotations from the court reporter.
  • Speaker Designation - Included on timestamped notes during proceedings. The first priority of any court reporter should be to acquire the speaker identifications so that during playback, it can be easily determined who said what.
  • Exhibit - A document, object, etc., used as evidence in a proceeding.  Exhibits are marked with an identifying number or letter and are indexed and described in the transcript of the proceedings. 
  • Channel - Different files of audio within one larger file. For example, an audio file can contain multiple channels of audio, one for each speaker. 
  • Redact - The process of removing text or images from an original document.
  • Playback/Readback - A portion of the recording/transcript created by the court reporter. Sometimes, a court reporter will be asked to locate a certain section of a transcript or recording and play it back for those involved to hear.
  • Continuance - The postponement of a legal proceeding to another day.
  • Mediation - A type of proceeding in which the parties discuss their disputes with the assistance of a mediator. The mediator helps the jury to reach a settlement. A court reporter will need to record the mediator’s sounds and actions as well. 

Of course, there are many more key phrases and definitions to be aware of when it comes to court reporting, as it is a crucial aspect of any proceeding. Hopefully this list helps you begin to understand all of the important work these individuals do.