The Changing Role of Technology in Court Reporting

Even if you have never set foot in a courtroom, you're probably familiar with the iconic image of a professional court reporter, thanks to TV shows and movies. Court reporters meet a crucial need in the legal justice system. They are the impartial recorders of every word spoken in a courtroom. This means that court reporters in Silicon Valley produce the accurate court transcripts that could mean the difference between a defendant filing a successful appeal or serving a lengthy sentence behind bars. With so much counting on accurate legal transcripts, it's no surprise that court reporting has gone high tech.

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Technical Limitations

In many courtrooms around the nation, going high tech has meant a shift toward replacing court reporters with sophisticated recording software. At first blush, this might seem to be an agreeable cost-saving measure. Yet, it's likely doing more harm than good. Anyone who has dabbled with voice recognition software knows that "depose a witness" might be recorded as "dethroned a hit and miss" and "robbed a store" may end up being "mobbed fur ore." Nonsensical digital interpretations of human voices could jeopardize the integrity of the criminal justice system in general and the appeals process in particular.

Live Reporting Benefits

Given the critical importance of accuracy in court reporting, it appears that transcripts produced by highly trained professionals are vastly preferable to those produced by machines. Speed is not a problem, since court reporters are well-versed in high tech solutions that allow them to capture speech at an incredibly fast rate. There are other benefits to using human court reporters to transcribe court proceedings. For example, a court reporter who has worked in the same area for a long time is likely to know details of the locale that a machine simply cannot know, such as the names of the local police officers and city streets. Additionally, human court reporters have the ability to pause court proceedings if a witness is speaking too softly. They can also distinguish between multiple voices; in heated courtroom discussions, it's not unusual for multiple speakers to try to speak up simultaneously. All of these factors are strong arguments for the continued use of court reporters.

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