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The 'Hidden' Side of Court Reporting Services

May 25, 2008
Court reporters quietly type away on their transcription machines during a trial, carefully recording the details of the proceedings. At 5 pm, the judge calls a recess until the next day and the reporter goes home. Right?

Not necessarily. There is an 'invisible' side to court reporting services that many outside observers and even legal professionals are unaware of.

"I Need a Copy of the Transcript by Tomorrow Morning"

Taking notes is only the first part of the entire transcription process. When an attorney or court official asks for a transcript, this doesn't mean just a copy of the reporter's notes. This means a fully translated, edited, formatted, and proofread document that is a legal record of the proceedings.

It is not uncommon for the transcripts to be needed on short notice, such as by the next day. This is where the other side of court reporting services comes into play. The court reporter must produce that transcript on time, even if it means working long into the night.

The Steps Involved in Producing a Transcript

Older court reporting machines produced output that could be compared to written shorthand that were not useful on its own to anyone but other court reporters. Those notes then had to be translated to full text.

Today's machines often implement Computer Aided Transcription which does the translation step automatically. They can automatically convert abbreviations and shorthand to full phrases or sentences. Computer translations still have to be edited by the reporter to fix problems such as using "to" when the speaker was saying "two".

The reporter must verify the facts. Something as seemingly trivial as misspelling a name can invalidate the document. Reporters are often faced with technical terms that they spell phonetically at the time, but they must find the correct spelling and ensure the word is being used correctly.

Once the document has been thoroughly proofread, it must be printed, duplicated, bound, and delivered to the requestor in a timely manner.

Other Duties Involved in Court Reporting Services

Many court reporters are self-employed and that involves a host of other duties that the reporter is not reimbursed for. Any small business must keep accurate records of customers, income and expenses, and tax liabilities. While computers make these records easy to keep, the court reporter must be diligent about keeping them up to date.

Some reporters depend on outside help to help with the mundane tasks so that they can focus on the actual court reporting services. However this still requires time to find, hire, and manage these people. Very busy reporters may even have a staff of other reporters to help them with the workload.

These ancillary duties might even vary from state to state based on local regulations. California court reporting services could involve different duties than the same services in Michigan or Virginia. Each reporter needs to adopt a work plan that fits the needs of the clients no matter where they are.
About the Author
Author is a freelance copywriter. For more information on Court
, visit http://www.huseby.com.
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