An Overview of Reporting Methods
Direct multi-channel audio, available as an integral part of the official record, preserves the only independently verifiable registration of what people in the courtroom actually said — unfiltered by anyone's individual interpretations, mishearings, or distractions. The audio record can be replayed as needed to ensure precise transcription.
The accuracy of foreign-language interpreters can also be confirmed by reviewing the digital file or audiotape.
In an average courtroom, the annual savings due to electronic reporting (including audio equipment, salary, and benefits) can total half the cost of a Stenographic machine operator. Why this difference? Remember that stenographic machine reporting is extraordinarily labor-intensive and stressful.
Benefits of E-Reporting in Court Administration
Audio recordings can be easily and quickly copied for attorneys or other interested parties. Thus, E-Reporting can add revenue to the court through the sale of audio copies of proceedings.
The technical training period for E-Reporters is considerably shorter than that required to become even moderately proficient in typing Stenograph machine codes or in mastering voice-recognition programs.
Transcription is timely because it can be completed by a team of federally approved transcriptionists, and / or AAERT-certified transcribers. Thus, transcription of electronically recorded proceedings can be prepared in any time frame requested by the court, including daily or even hourly copy. Condensed transcripts and diskette copies are easily produced.
Studies and Reports
"A Comparative Evaluation of Stenographic and Audiotape Methods for U.S. District Court Reporting," July 1983, for the Federal Judicial Center, reports (page 77, IX Conclusions):
"Transcripts produced from records taken by the audio recording system were more accurate than transcripts produced by the stenographic reporting method";
(At page 81): "Given appropriate management and supervision, electronic sound recording can provide an accurate record of United States District Court proceedings at reduced costs, without delay or interruption, and provide the basis for accurate and timely transcript delivery."
In "Report to the California Legislature on Electronic Recording Demonstration Project," a pilot program, the Judicial Council in January 1992 decided: (At page 36, Conclusion): "The use of electronic recording as an alternative method to produce and preserve the verbatim court record has been successfully demonstrated in the current pilot project";
(At page 37, Conclusion): "Electronic recording has proved to be as acceptable in making a [court] record as that made by a stenographic reporter";
(At page 37, Final Conclusion): "Efficiencies and savings will also be enhanced when the prohibition against using electronic recording in criminal and juvenile proceedings is eliminated."
In a review of previous comparison studies by Rae Lovko and Susan Myers, prepared for the National Center for State Courts — Institute for Court Management, in March 1994 the authors compared twenty side-by-side comparison studies and reported the following conclusions:
(At page 1 of the Introduction): "Specifically, 15 reports found that electronic court reporting provided either cost benefits, quality benefits or both. All but one of these reports were prepared by or for state and federal judiciaries.
"Five reports drew contrary conclusions, arguing that non-electronic reporting methods were equal or superior to electronic court reporting methods. Four of the five reports were commissioned and paid for by the National Court Reporters Association."
In a report to the U.S. Congress, prepared by the Comptroller General's Office, June 1982, government researchers concluded:
"Electronic recording systems are a proven alternative to the traditional practice of using [Stenographic] court reporters to record judicial proceedings. Numerous state and foreign court systems are using electronic recordings systems, achieving substantial savings, and also providing excellent service to the courts and litigants."