Technology Struggles to Replace a Live Court Reporter

In the past, court reporter were a fixture in every sort of courtroom situation. However, demand for live court reporters declined in the last few decades, as budget cuts caused many of the courts to choose electronic recorders and send the tapes to less expensive freelance typists. Yet, as that occurred, many court administrators started to realize that tape recorders and virtual assistants couldn’t fully replace human beings. 

Why Recordings and Virtual Assistants Fail

At times, machines recording court proceedings don’t get turned on or don’t operate correctly. Additionally, virtual assistants can tend to struggle with getting the legal terminology correct, as they lack expertise in the legal language of criminal law and other specific areas of the law.  Alexa and similar virtual assistant programs leverage the internet to master commonly asked commands. These commands are often simple. However, conversational speech is much more dynamic and nuanced, making it difficult for a virtual assistant or a transcriptionist to keep up.

When recordings fail, or if recording machines aren’t turned on due to human error, an attorney making and arguing a case can suffer the consequences of the lost information. Furthermore, this data is not available if needed for the appeals process. It turns out not to be cost-effective, as the whole proceeding may need to be done over again. 

Furthermore, the practice of outsourcing courtroom tapes for transcription can be problematic. Sometimes these are given to transcriptionists who are not native English speakers in other countries. These people may find it impossible to decipher the legal language and terminology. Plus, without live human interaction, it can be challenging for any transcriptionist to tell who is speaking. Transcripts peppered with inaudible or missing sections may be damaging to a case.

Moving Forward

More and more court administrators accept that tape recordings and virtual assistant transcripts can’t fully replace live human beings. Today’s modern technology allows court reporters to see their work on a dual screen. On one side of the screen are the shorthand figures only they can read. On the other side, they can see a full transcript of what they’ve typed. Additionally, judges and attorneys can link laptops to the machines so they can see what the court reporter has captured in real-time.

Accredited court reporters are useful for depositions, grand juries, pre-trial meetings, testimonies, and all kinds of things. In many criminal cases, grand juries, judges, and attorneys

want a live court reporter. For a critical criminal case, courtroom professionals may see the benefit and ask for a live reporter.

Whether you’re engaged in a high stakes criminal case or another law focus, hiring a court reporter can make a significant difference. It seems technology cannot outperform court reporters. When it comes down to the fairest trial, whether for defendants or plaintiffs, hiring a live court reporter to record the proceedings may up the accuracy, precision, and timeliness of the material. To find out more about how the right court reporter can help your case, contact an agency for corporate court reporting services.