Why Technology Can't Replace Court Reporters

The professional court reporter has long been an indispensable fixture in modern courtrooms, but some have raised concerns that court reporters in San Jose and across the country may soon be replaced by high-tech voice recognition software. Voice recognition software does have its uses. Workers with carpal tunnel syndrome, for example, can use it to help fulfill their computer-related work tasks. But for such a sensitive field as the legal profession, it is highly unlikely that technology will ever be able to replace court reporters.

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Immediate Access to Real-Time Feeds

It's no secret that court reporters are responsible for producing unfailingly accurate transcripts shortly after the court proceeding, but they also serve an important function during a hearing or trial. Court reporters almost instantaneously produce real-time feeds, which are accessible to court clerks, law clerks, judges, jurors, media members, and all other parties. If wireless technology is available in a courtroom, then these real-time feeds are easily and securely deliverable to these parties, allowing any authorized individual to instantly check the record. This aspect of court reporting is especially important for individuals who have hearing loss.

Unsurpassed Reliability and Accuracy

As sophisticated as voice recognition software has become in recent years, it simply can't mimic the accuracy and reliability of a professional court reporter. Court records that are accurate beyond question are essential for ensuring a fair and impartial appellate review for all parties.

Superior Noise Discrimination

Voice recognition software may excel when one person is speaking clearly and evenly into a microphone, but it fails at discriminating among multiple speakers and it may run into trouble with the typical background noise of a courtroom, such as papers being shuffled, throats being cleared, and parties whispering to each other. A court reporter is fully capable of discriminating between voices, understanding heavily accented voices, and discerning the difference between background noise and speakers. Additionally, a court reporter won't inadvertently include off-the-record conversations in the official transcript-a mistake that could prove disastrous to a party to a legal proceeding.