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.
Kudos to Planet Depos for reaching out to our firm with the offering of digital reporting in this never ending shortage of stenographers! We love working with PD due to their cutting edge technology, ease of scheduling/canceling and modifying, and most of all the seamlessness with which they assisted us with the transition to ZOOM depositions during the start of the COVID pandemic. PD helped us keep business going and moving forward without missing a beat on our cases.
They are doing the same thing in adapting to the shortage of certified stenographers in California, one of the most litigious states in the nation! PD was able to shift to get the job done – which is most important to our cases and clients!
The most important part was how they were able to outline the difference between the digital reporting and stenography, which was amazing. It allowed us to make a decision as a firm quickly and adapt so we aren’t left without a court report due to these unprecedented circumstances. They also knew exactly how to update our notice of deposition(s) to include for this option, should it occur, so we are prepared in all of our cases right off the bat.
Thank you PD for keeping our interests on the forefront and moving along with us as well all adapt to the technologies and obstacles!
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.
What is a digital reporter?
A digital reporter is a court reporter. Digital court reporters use state-of-the-art audio recording devices, along with software to identify speakers and log notes throughout the proceedings.
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?
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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