Which is better: a traditional court reporter or a digital replacement? If you're thinking that the digital replacement is the better, cheaper option, think again. When you rely on a digital court recording over a live human, you lose out in surprising ways.
Here are two reasons that people think that a digital court recording is better than a traditional court reporter (and why they are wrong):
1. The services of a digital recording tech cost less than those of a traditional court reporter.
Everybody is budget-conscious these days, and that includes those in the legal profession. Digital court reporters are less expensive than traditional court reporters because the digital court reporter doesn't have to have the skills necessary to create a record of the meeting by hand as it occurs. Instead, they come armed with a laptop that records the proceeding, and transcripts are made afterward. And they are less expensive to hire. A 2009 study determined that 5 days of a traditional court reporter's time cost a little more than $2,700. The same time, billed by a digital reporter, cost a little less than $1,300.
It's the additional costs that add up. It takes longer for transcripts to be made from a digital recording. Each hour of a recorded hearing takes three or four hours to transcribe, as transcribers frequently have to stop the recordings to take down complicated technical terms or to replay sections where the audio is either poor in quality or complicated by more than one person speaking. The additional time spent transcribing digital transcripts costs more, which eats away at the original savings gained by hiring the cheaper professional. Once the fees for things like technical assistance are factored in, the same study found that the services of the digital reporter ended up costing almost $1,500 more than the comparable services of the traditional court reporter.
2. The digital recording eliminates worries over human error when it comes to accuracy.
Some legal professionals like the idea of having an audio recording of the proceedings in order to capture the nuances of someone's tone. It also seems like having the audio recording of a meeting or hearing can erase any doubts about what was said in that meeting or hearing.
In fact, the exact opposite may be true. By relying on a digital recording, you run the risk of the whole proceeding being lost due to a technical error. You can also end up with sections of transcripts marked as "inaudible" because someone was mumbling or people were talking over each other. Digital court reporters are trained to operate equipment, not make sure that there's an accurate recording of events. A traditional court reporter can (and will) interrupt a proceeding and ask a witness to speak louder or that parties only speak one at a time. A well-trained court reporter will also interrupt to get clarification of technical terms so that no important information is lost or misunderstood.
In addition, when final transcripts are made, the traditional court reporter makes his or her own file. Because a digital court reporter doesn't have the same skills, the work is usually turned over to a stenographer who wasn't actually at the proceedings for transcription. That increases the chance of inaccuracies because the stenographer has no memory or notes of the proceedings to recall and use to clarify parts of the recording that may be unclear.
In the end, the digital recording can end up providing a wholly less accurate record of testimony than a person who is trained in the art of manually recording it.
The digital age and modern technology have brought a lot of improvements to the world -- but court reporting may be one area where the old way of doing things is still hard to beat. For more information about court reporting, talk to companies like Farrell Court Reporting.Share
15 December 2015
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