Court Reporters and Electronic Recording: An Exchange of Thoughts

We are not court reporters and normally do not become involved in discussions related to that field. Nevertheless we recently came accross an interesting exchange of e-mails which helps to identify and highlight the challenges and sometimes emotial reactions regarding how stenographic reporting and electronic recording relate to one another within the court reporting process.

The first e-mail, which we refer to as a comment, presented here in exerpted form, raises concerns about the impact of increased digitization of the process and a percieved lack of planning and resources to deal with these impacts.

The second e-mail is a response to the first. It defends some of the issues criticized in the first e-mail and presents an altervative perspective regarding the roles of stenographic reporting and electronic recording in the court reporting process.

Because of the nature of the exchange and the need to respect privacy we have deleted all identification information regarding either party


:The reports prepared by NACM or reports by other groups sponsored by the National Center for State Courts should be prepared with the help of fine court staff who have spent years and dedicated their careers to expertly recording and preparing court transcripts.

As they say in the appellate courts, there is court reporter dissent with the recommendations of the National Association of Court Management and the recommendations of the Conference of State Court Administrators.

All court reporters who have ever worked in a courtroom and recorded court proceedings will strongly disagree with above mentioned findings and recommendations by NACM and the Conference of State Court Administrators.

Professional court reporters of all types have high standards, and it is not high standards to have the proceedings of several courtrooms monitored from a remote location.

Professional court reporters have high standards and would would never recommend wrapping court reporter notes in rubber bands and storing those notes in metal filing cabinets and then having to later empty those cabinets and file the records in cardboard boxes for permanent storage.

I believe it is the duty and responsibility of those who are skilled in court reporting to challenge reports put out by NACM and the Conference of State Court Administrators when skilled court reporters believe the recommendations made by NACM and the Conference of State Court Administrators are not in the best interests of the court systems or the best interests of the taxpayers when expensive unneeded metal filing cabinets are recommended for the storage of court reporter records.

Court reporters should speak up when the court administrators recommendations give bad advice.


Lets try to remove the hysterics from this issue, … It is not an either/or choice of stenographic reporting or electronic recording. With the exception of Kentucky, every state I am aware of that has grappled with this has ended up with a blended solution of both methods of capturing the verbatim record. As the NACM Miniguide on this subject points out, court managers should go over several considerations to determine the best method to suit the circumstances depending upon such things as case type, likelihood of the need for a transcript and available resources.

As to the other matters you raise, in order to be effective, electronic recording equipment should be monitored by qualified internal or contract staff. The Florida courts have recommended a formula for how many courtrooms a monitor could handle simultaneously, again depending upon several factors. Their report has loads of helpful information about the effective use of electronic recording, and can be found at

Finally, stenographic notes should be stored electronically, not in paper form. Who cares about the shelf life of rubber bands or whether notes should be stacked vertically or in hermetically sealed boxes?

Stenographic reporting is an honorable profession and there is a rightful place in the making of the court record for steno, especially if the reporter offers realtime and the host of technology advances that come with computer aided transcription. This combination is the platinum standard, but courts do not always need a Cadillac solution especially in these tough budgetary times.

I would much prefer that court reporters bring their expertise about the record to the table to help court management make informed decisions that benefit the system as a whole. Inflammatory rhetoric such as yours only harms this cause, in my view.

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