In an effort to save money during a tough economic time, district courts in multiple states began dismissing live court reporters in favor of using only audio recording systems over the past few years. Bad move, says one Florida court reporting school.
The trend is yet another example of people putting far too much blind faith in machines and technology without the benefit of a human counterpart. We’re not knocking technology, of course. Court reporters rely heavily on the cutting edge technology they use to provide real-time transcription and voice recordings of court proceedings, depositions and meetings. But removing the human factor and relying solely on technology has already proven disastrous for multiple cases.
Among the reasons that courts are beginning to switch back to using live court reporters are lost, inaudible or inaccessible audio recordings. Difficulties with audio recording systems breaking down have caused docket matters and court trials to be delayed to allow time to either repair the audio equipment or bring in a live court reporter. Otherwise, there would be no way to make record of the proceedings.
Failed or lost audio or video recordings can necessitate repeated hearings. A 2010 Jefferson County, Kentucky court was forced to order a repeat of a suppression hearing three months after the hearing was first held. All parties, including attorneys for both sides and a detective had to be brought in again to recreate the entire record when it was learned that the recording system captured video, but no audio. You can imagine the consequences if parties change their minds as to how they want to testify in a case over time.
Lost or inaudible audio recordings also have led to criminal charges being dismissed on appeal. Try explaining that to a victim or to his or her family. Plus, consider that money and time spent looking for lost recordings or hiring multiple transcriptionists who spend hours trying to decipher sounds may cancel the expected savings.
Says one longtime professional court reporter: “I’ve just spent over 12 hours in an effort to transcribe an audio recording made by a police inspector questioning a complaining witness. Even given my talents as a listener, skills honed by many years of court reporting, and my ability to write simultaneously what I’m hearing on the audio recording, I cannot hear/interpret correctly many of the witness’s statements because of his distance from the recording device, his pronounced accent, and the extraneous noises picked up by the device. Prior to my working on this, six different people spent many hours listening to and attempting to transcribe the interview. How, pray tell, does this save time, money, or manpower?”
A live court reporter present during legal proceedings can interrupt to ask for clarification, ask parties to speak louder or perhaps position herself closer to the speakers so as to ensure a thorough and accurate report. The Stenotype Institute, a top Florida court reporting school, highly recommends having both a live court reporter and an audio/video system for backup.
Make no mistake – courts are beginning to see the major flaws in eschewing live court reporters for machines. And many of them are switching back. If you’re interested in a career that has proven and growing job security, enroll at the Stenotype Institute and begin preparing for your court reporting career today. We have campuses in Jacksonville an Orlando serving students from throughout Florida and South Georgia including Naples, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Cocoa Beach, Gainesville, Ocala, Lake City, Ft. Walton Beach, Panama City, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota, in Florida, plus Albany, Brunswick and Savannah in Georgia.