A court reporter is someone who records speeches, placing them into written format, for official purposes of court hearings and other proceedings of an official nature. Several methods exist for court reporting of live accounts and there are licensed court reporters that have real-time capabilities for recording these.
Machine writing entails using a shorthand machine or a stenotype that allows the court recorder to record the proceedings as they occur. The stenotype is a special keyboard that is for shorthand use. Court reporters can write at speeds of even 300-375 words per minute using this machine. Looking like a piano keyboard, the multiple keys of a stenotype have whole words or syllables or even phrases on each key, which is why court reporters are able to record what people say exactly as they say it.
Another method used by court reporters is electronic reporting. Using analog or digital equipment, court reporters record court proceedings, including video depositions. The court reporter takes notes and makes sure clear and high quality recordings are made. From the recording, the court reporter makes a written transcript from the recording. There is no specific training for this method and it is usually learned in the process of doing the work.
One other method of court reporting is by voice writing. This method uses a voice silencer to record testimonies in court. A voice silencer is a mask that holds a microphone inside. A witness may say his testimony and commentary on the voice silencer so that others in the courtroom will not hear it. This testimony is recorded and transcribed by the court reporter as part of the court records. As the witness speaks on the voice silencer, the court reporter takes note of any emotions or gestures that the witness may make during his testimony and includes this in his report.
Court reporters who are proficient in voice writing typically take 24-month courses before being declared real-time certifiable, but court reporters that are not proficient in stenotype take 3-6 years learning basic skills. Although each method of recording testimonies or speech has different types of training, usually there are basic academic classes for court reporters. Trainings also include familiarization courses regarding medical language, legal terms, business law and the English language. Those who have already finished courses as paralegals or legal secretaries typically become certified real-time court reporters within 6 to 9 months since they have already finished specific courses required for court reporters.
Voice writing court reporters need to know how to use Speech Recognition Engines and Computer Aided Transcription. Students may take distance learning or online training courses that teach any of these methods for court reporters. Other students prefer to take certificate courses offered by private business schools. There are also some accredited colleges that offer associate or bachelor’s degree programs for stenotype court reporters. Court reporters need to take licensing exams to become Certified Court reporters.
Practice plays an important part in the career of a court reporter. Aside from constant practice, court reporters also need to take refresher courses to maintain their licenses. There are also associations of court reporters in existence that function to aid court reporters all over the nation.