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In a deposition, you may have wondered why a court reporter is used to take down the record. People have asked many times why court reporters are still used when a tape recorder can do essentially the same thing, right? So why is a live court reporter still necessary in this day and age?

Court reporters are an essential part of the legal system for a wide variety of reasons.

  1. Keeping the record clear

If you’ve ever listened to people speak, you might notice that unfamiliar words need to be clarified occasionally and many words can be misheard. Written down, many similar words, especially involving technical or medical terminology, can be confused with each other. If a live court reporter is present, they have the opportunity to tackle that problem as it arises. On the other hand, if this mistake is heard on a recording and asked to be transcribed, the transcriptionist might not be able to easily clarify what is said. This could result in serious errors on the final transcript, and, as a result, might not accurately reflect what was stated. In addition, people might speak over each other or other noises may be made during a deposition and may make the record unclear. A live court reporter can put a stop to this immediately if it gets out of hand, and they will make sure that everything that needs to be said is put on the record in an orderly manner.


  1. Technological Issues

Issues with technology can and do happen, whether it’s due to human error or for another reason. If there is not a court reporter in the room whose sole duty is to protect the record, entire depositions or court cases could be lost. There could be a plethora of things that could happen, from having something wrong with the recording device or someone forgetting to press record! Court reporters usually have several backups in place to prevent something like this from happening, including writing to both their steno machines and to their CAT software, and, as a last resort, having an audio backup of their own. Also, since the court reporter is present during the proceeding or deposition, they will be able to notice immediately if something goes awry technologically.


  1. Familiarity with the Material

Because the court reporter was present throughout the deposition or proceeding, they have a better idea of what is happening than someone who is just transcribing audio material. Someone who is transcribing wasn’t there and will have a much higher chance of incorrectly identifying speakers, putting an incorrect, but similar, sounding word or phrase, and even has the risk of not understanding something completely. A court reporter’s turnaround time is also much more likely to be shorter than someone who is transcribing from audio. Since they were present, and since they have recorded the material at the time that it happened, there is not nearly as much editing to be done than if it was started from scratch.


Written by Brittaney Byers.

Brittaney Byers is a current court reporting student intern at Cady Reporting. She is currently in her final speeds at Cuyahoga Community College and hoping to graduate in May 2018. Brittaney has been featured in the National Court Reporters Association’s student publication Up-To-Speed as the Student Spotlight in October 2017. After graduating, Brittaney hopes to either become a freelance court reporter taking depositions, or an official court reporter working in a courtroom. When she is not practicing or doing homework, she enjoys playing the piano and caring for her cat, Kiara.