Court reporters vs audio/video recordings

Court reporters are featured in courtrooms, mediations, meetings, and interviews, even in the digital age where zoom and other platforms allow you to record the virtual conference. It would appear at first glance that an audio and video recording of the hearing or meeting would serve the needs of the attendees to recap what was said during the recorded conference. Yet, it is important to be mindful of the limitations of technology that do not exist with a court reporter and that can make all the difference and easily justify the additional expense.

Digital Recordings

When you decide to use digital audio and video recordings as a substitute for court reporter transcripts, there are a number of things that can go wrong. First of all, when deciding to go with a recording to document the audio and possibly video, you would be responsible for making sure that:

  • You do not forget to actually record the session, either at the outset or after you have gone off the record for a moment;
  • Your computer has enough space to keep the recordings;
  • Recordings will be clear, precise, and undisturbed;
  • You produce and supply all parties with a transcript or copy of the recordings if requested;
  • You have a backup plan if the system malfunctions.

Unfortunately, when you use the recording function on the virtual platform, you do not know how well the final product will turn out until you have reviewed the audio and/or video after the fact, even if you tested the equipment moments before use.

In the end, using the recording function of your virtual meeting platform can end up being a stressful process, because you need to perform the function you have as a meeting participant and in addition, you also carry the responsibility of ensuring the recording is flawless.

Lastly, it is not possible to refer back to a particular passage of a recording with the same ease as referring to a particular passage in a transcript. It may therefore be unavoidable to transcribe the recording after the fact. This is particularly true for recordings that are intended to be read into evidence at a trial. Transcripts are indispensable for that. Hence, the money you may have saved initially in not hiring a court reporter for the job, you will likely have to spend later to obtain a transcript of the recording.

Using a Court Reporter

Using a court reporter provides many advantages in comparison to attempting to record proceedings on your own.

Court reporters provide one major service that virtual technology does not provide: With a human sitting behind a keyboard documenting every little thing that occurs, if something happens to go wrong, it can be fixed instantly, ensuring that what is being documented is 100 percent accurate, every time. For example, if there is a disturbance, the court reporter can interrupt the meeting and ask for clarification or repeat what has been said. They can ensure the quality of the recording on the spot.

Furthermore, when you hire a court reporter, you can be confident that they have been trained to do this specific task. They are capable of typing at 225 wpm (at least) using specialized machines called stenographers. The zoom platform is first and foremost a tool to enable the participants to interact. The recording feature is tagged onto the primary function, needs to be handled on the side, and cannot be checked in real-time.

Additionally, court reporters also benefit the parties involved in real-time. If someone such as a judge or lawyer requests something to be read that was previously said, the court reporter can pull it up and immediately provide them with the requested information. Afterward, when the meeting, trial, or mediation is over, depending on the certifications and abilities of the court reporter, they may offer transcription services and would be able to provide all parties with a transcript of the entire proceeding – something that a piece of technology cannot provide.

Using a court reporter can take away the stress and hassle of using your own devices because when you use court reporting services, you know that everything will be taken care of, and will be 100 percent accurate, every time. Trusting technology to do a job that requires 100 percent accuracy may not be the best choice for a professional in a legal setting.

As we noted in a previous blog, according to the Court Reporters Association of Ontario, court reporters are “duty-bound to not only protect the integrity of the record but to always remain impartial and maintain an arms-length, independent relationship from the influence that may be put upon them.”

For more information regarding court reporting services, please visit our website