Court reporters are essential team members during any litigation process. These professionals are tasked with recording the exact testimony of witnesses during a deposition and at trial. Far from being a passive task, court reporting requires substantial legal knowledge, detailed attention, and professional decorum.
Since legal counsel and decision-makers in a court, be they judges or juries, rely so heavily on the accuracy of evidence, it is essential that the position of court reporter is respected. Part of demonstrating that respect is choosing to hire a court reporter that is trained and committed to meeting high standards of accuracy.
Prospective employers of court reporters and court reporting firms can identify those individuals who fall short of the standards of ethics and reliability required in the legal context. If you are assessing candidates, look out for these signs that a court reporter is untrained.
1. Failing to Review Industry Technology
Court reporting is a complex job. In order to properly document information, court reporters must understand the terminology used in a particular context. Only with that advanced knowledge can they be certain they are recording the proper phrases and abbreviations that leave no doubt about the accuracy of the document they create. Accuracy is part of what attorneys contract for when they hire a court reporting service.
A trained and prepared court reporter will meet the challenge of recording industry-specific terminology. A seasoned court reporter will demonstrate foresight into the particular case by arriving for the session with a list of standard industry acronyms, or will not appear flustered at the use of obscure terminology because he or she will already have sufficient familiarity with the area.
2. Failing to Control Emotions
All participants in the court process, including legal counsel and court staff, are witness to emotionally difficult facts. Often, witnesses convey events that are tragic and upsetting. However, in the professional context, it is the job of the servants of the court to remain committed to the task at hand. This is true even if human nature would sometimes move them to facial expressions that convey sympathy, disgust, sadness or another emotion.
Court reporters must remain unbiased observers, recorders of witness testimony at trial and in depositions. Regardless of the length of an individual court reporter’s experience, he or she should be able to remain calm and focused. Professional decorum is essential in order to make sure the reporter accurately records all elements of the trial. If a court reporter is not composed, it is a sign he or she is unable or unwilling to separate personal emotions from the job.
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3. Eating During the Trial
Legal counsel and juries often have to prepare for a long time in court without a break. Likewise, a professional court reporter will use his or her knowledge and experience to assess how long testimony is expected to last. Advanced planning means the court reporter can ensure he or she eats enough before trial begins so there is no snacking while evidence is being presented.
There is a time and place to eat and regroup. During the deposition or trial is not that time. Eating demonstrates disrespect to the court or deposition proceedings, which officials will not appreciate. It will reflect poorly on the counsel who brought the reporter into the situation. In addition, court reporters have to be using their hands at all times in order to not miss any testimony.
4. Failing to Show Up On Time
Court reporters who arrive late cost real money. An expensive expert may be on-hand, paid by the hour, waiting for the reporter to arrive. In litigation, everyone’s time is valuable. That includes your time as an attorney, as well as that of opposing counsel and the court. Judges and court officials, or other professionals present at a deposition, will not stand to have their time wasted. If a court reporter is consistently late, it indicates he or she does not understand that punctuality is essential to perform the job appropriately. Tardiness reflects poorly on everyone involved.
5. Failing to Be Technologically Prepared
Court reporters from a premier firm are trained to use the latest software and technology in the industry. In addition to this expertise, court reporters should also demonstrate professional responsibility by preparing in advance for any technological mishaps.
The court reporter will arrive with a fully charged computer so there is no risk of scrambling for a power outlet while the trial is ongoing. He or she will have an alternative option available to perform duties if necessary in case the first computer fails. In all cases, the court reporter will do everything possible to remain self-sufficient and completely focused on the task at hand.
Choose a Firm of Trained Court Reporters
If you hire the right court reporting service, you should never have to witness these lapses in efficiency. An established and credentialed court reporting service offers not only assurances of quality work, but a team of experts that are dedicated to the accurate documentation of information.
Take a few moments to assess your court reporting options before you need to use them and choose the agency that’s right for you. When you are ready, learn more about our court reporting services and contact us for a free quote.