The Power of a Court Reporter
19 November 2022

The Power of a Court Reporter

There are a lot of major players when it comes to the courtroom and U.S. legal system. Attorneys, judges, and lawyers, are all crucial to the proceeding process, however, many people tend to forget about, overlook and underestimate court reporters and their work. Court reporters are a crucial aspect of the legal field. Whether it be recording depositions, hearings, or trials, the work of court reporters can contribute to the end result in any case. 

To begin, we’ll define what exactly a court reporter is. A court reporter, also known as a stenographer or Certified Shorthand Reporters (CSRs), is a trained professional who captures and preserves a record of what transpired during legal proceedings. The device they mainly use to complete this work 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 legal proceedings court reporters record can range from depositions, hearings, arbitrations, trials, etc. The end deliverable from a court reporter is a verbatim script of the proceeding that can then be used as evidence in a trial. 

Though their work may seem simple, you should never underestimate the power of a court reporter. Their expertise with equipment, attention to detail, and quality editing skills can be the difference between winning or losing a case.

  • Expertise with equipment: Court reporters are important because they are most likely the only people in the room who know how to work the stenograph recording equipment. Court reporters go through distinct training to learn how to properly use the device to get the best, most accurate results. One may ask, why can’t a simple audio recording device be used by a less experienced, less expensive individual? Simply put, if a situation is important enough to be escalated to a legal level, all work surrounding it should be held to the same standard. You wouldn’t use an iPhone app to record your wedding day, and you certainly wouldn’t do the same with a deposition. While performing their tasks, court reporters also display a level of professionalism needed at the legal level.
  • Attention to detail: Not only do court reporters record word-for-word what each individual during the proceeding says, they also record other sounds and body language within the room that can contribute as evidence, such as if a plaintiff or defendant coughs or rolls their eyes. This information can be crucial for a case and help a judge determine the truth.
  • Quality editing skills: It’s one thing to just record the deposition, but being able to quickly and effectively turn the recording into a viable transcript is very important. The court reporter is responsible for including all dialogue and outstanding sounds so that nothing is left out. Their efficiency and timeliness is critical to keep the case going or to come to a conclusion. 

As discussed, court reporters hold a great deal of power in the courtroom and legal situations in general. They are often overlooked, but their unique expertise is necessary when it comes to any proceeding. It is important to remember that court reporters can be the difference between winning or losing a case, and that their power is substantial.