Many people today maintain the classic image of courtroom reporting, which typically includes a court reporter furiously typing away on a stenography machine in order to produce a transcript of the proceedings. In reality, 21st century technology has transformed the way realtime court reporting can take place. By networking sophisticated software with the work of the court reporter, anyone in the courtroom can now have immediate access to court transcripts. This change in the way courts share and review the official proceedings is providing a host of benefits to attorneys, judges, jurors, and the justice system as a whole.
Court reporting in realtime begins with utilizing what is called realtime text technology. Realtime text software instantly interprets the stenographer’s notes and translates them into a meaningful text that is available immediately. Traditionally, due to the volume of text being collected, courtroom reporting in realtime was simply not achievable. Courtroom reporters regularly collect 200 words per minute, and some are trained to handle up to 300 words per minute! But the work of transcribing notes had to be done by a person during an official court recess or at the end of the day’s proceedings.
With the availability of realtime court reports, many parties have instant access to the text of the proceedings on their local computer. The transcription is instantly delivered within just a few seconds of the actual words being spoken! This availability allows attorneys, jurors, and judges to review and mark relevant parts of a given testimony in the midst of the statement. Imagine the challenge for a team of attorneys furiously trying to take notes with pencils during a key witness testimony. Imagine that same team marking the actual text of the testimony on a computer screen.
In addition to the ease of access for those present in the courtroom, realtime court reporting enables an expanded group of people to become involved in the justice system. By coupling the technology with television and remote access points, law firms can involve more attorneys and experts who may not be able to attend in person. Additionally, the ease of access on computers allows legal teams to review marked testimony and conduct sophisticated searches of courtroom activity from any location. Finally real-time text software allows an important access point for individuals who are hard-or-hearing. Essentially, the system can function like live closed-captioning for individuals who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate.
There are clear advantages to leveraging technology in a 21st century courtroom. More than anything, upgrading court reporting to use real-time text technology will increase the possibility of a more accessible and efficient justice system.