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Digital Court Reporting

What Is Digital Court Reporting?

Although the use of digital court reporting has been around for decades, advancements in technology now allow us to capture depositions in this manner.  The digital reporter uses state-of-the-art recording equipment to record the proceedings, with no fewer than two (2) audio backups, a laptop, audio mixer, and software to identify speakers and keep notes throughout the proceedings.  Not only is the volume and quality of the audio continuously monitored by the digital reporter, the digital reporter is also taking extensive simultaneous notes of the proceedings.  These digital annotations are time-linked to the corresponding audio, allowing for quick and easy access for “readbacks,” or playbacks by the digital court reporter.

The taking attorney, witness, and defending attorney are equipped with Lavalier microphones.  Each is assigned to a separate sound channel.  An omnidirectional microphone is also placed on the conference room table and is assigned its own separate channel.

The digital reporter is trained to listen to each and every word of the proceedings, just like the stenographer.  If there is cross-talk, a noise that prohibits a speaker from being heard, or an issue with one of the microphones that prevents crystal-clear audio, the digital reporter is trained to interrupt the proceedings.  It is not necessary for the digital reporter to stop the proceedings in the event of rapid speech, so long as the audio is clear.

Why is there a need to use digital reporters when there are stenographic reporters available?

There is a critical shortage of stenographic reporters across the nation. In 2013, the National Court Reporters Association commissioned a report on the impact of the shortage to the profession and to the industry. The Court Reporting Industry Outlook Report, published by Ducker Worldwide, concluded that the demand for court reporters would exceed supply within five years (2018); that nationwide, an additional 5,500 stenographic court reporters would be needed to fill the void. Unfortunately, the profession fell woefully short on meeting the demand, stenographic schools continue to close today, resulting in fewer enrollees, and fewer professionals entering the field. Additionally, these numbers do not take into account the number that have and will continue to retire. As has been seen in many other industries, the court reporting industry has turned to advanced digital technologies to supplement the supply of stenographic reporters to meet the demands of the legal industry at this critical juncture.

Who administers the oath?

As an officer of the court and notary, the digital reporter is authorized to swear in the witness.

Will the digital reporter clarify spellings to ensure the accuracy of the record?

The digital reporter, no differently than a stenographic reporter, will request spellings during a break or at the conclusion of the proceedings.

How are the proceedings transcribed?

The audio file, as well as the simultaneous notes from the digital reporter, are sent to transcribers; that is, experienced stenographic reporters or experienced legal transcriptionists.

Can a rough transcript be ordered if the proceeding is covered by a digital reporter?

Yes, you may order a rough transcript from a digital reporter, though the turnaround time is longer due to the fact that the transcription must still take place following the proceeding.  A rough will be prepared using a team of transcriptionists to expedite delivery.

The state in which I practice requires the use of a Certified Shorthand Reporter. Considering the shortage, how can I be assured that a court reporter is available for my case?

Most states allow for alternative technology in the event a stenographic reporter is unavailable, provided there is notice and/or stipulation by counsel.  The best course is to include in future notices the option of using alternative technology if a stenographic reporter is unavailable.  This will alert counsel to the fact and can be agreed upon prior to the deposition.  Sample language for your notice is available at the top of this page.

Who marks and manages the exhibits?

The digital reporter handles the exhibits no differently than the stenographic reporter, including marking, managing, and tracking custody.

Do I give my transcript order to the digital reporter?

Yes.  The digital reporter is knowledgeable about the services available to you and will be happy to note your order.  If you have a question that the digital reporter is unable to answer, they will let the office know, and we will call you with the answer.

If it is a stenographic reporter who transcribes the proceedings, why aren’t they just assigned to the proceedings in the first place?

Remember, a digital reporter is being used because no stenographic reporter was available to cover your proceedings.  Transcription by experienced court reporters is available today for a number of reasons, including those who have retired from active reporting and who choose to supplement their income using their skill sets; those living in high-traffic metropolitan areas who choose to work from home using their skill sets; those who need to work from home due to family obligations; and also those who live in rural areas where reporting work is not plentiful.

A digital reporter does not offer realtime, correct?

That’s correct, a digital reporter is unable to provide realtime.  If you plan to use realtime, please continue to alert our Scheduling team so that a skilled realtime reporter will be assigned to your case. 

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