Digital reporting's efficiencies save court systems time and
money. With budget cuts and a need to provide more services with
fewer resources, this becomes more important every day.
Because I work in a state court system, I experience the benefits of these
efficiencies every day. Accustomed to these advantages, I often take
them for granted. Here are some examples:
At a recent felony sentencing hearing, a dispute arose regarding
the plea agreement.
Before digital reporting,
the hearing would need to be continued, a transcript would be ordered and
prepared, the court, prosecution, and defense would read the transcript, and
then the parties would have to appear for a second hearing.
After digital reporting,
when the dispute arose at the sentencing hearing, within seconds the court
reporter replayed the audio from the plea hearing that occurred six to
eight weeks previously. The court, the prosecution, the defense,
Corrections, and the defendant listened to the exact agreement and could
proceed with the sentencing hearing.
Such cost and time savings are significant throughout the system:
There was one court appearance instead of two.
No costs were incurred for a transcript, and there was no delay in the case.
The file was handled once by court administration instead of twice.
It was not placed on the shelf in court administration, only to be
pulled weeks later for a second court appearance. There was one
computer entry, not two.
To assist the hard-of-hearing, the courtrooms are equipped
with a device connected directly to the digital reporting system. The
hearing-impaired individual wears a small headset and controls the volume
of the proceeding. It is used for parties, jurors, and for
hearing-impaired employees who routinely work in court. While this
device is not appropriate for the fully deaf, it is successfully used on a
regular basis for those with less-than-complete hearing. It
eliminates the cost of a sign language interpreter or real-time
writer. It saves court staff the time involved in scheduling a sign
language interpreter or real-time writer. And it is far less cumbersome
for everyone involved.
Because of budget cuts, judges share law clerks. The law clerks can
access the audio files of court hearings so they can listen to proceedings
they could not attend, and complete the work required.
At his computer in chambers, the judge I work for listens to the
digital audio of prior hearings. Our court calendars are busy and we
don't have the luxury of having assigned cases. If he wishes, Judge Chase
can listen to a previous court hearing whether it occurred before him or
another judge in our county. No reporter needs to prepare a
"rough draft" transcript. At his own convenience, the judge can listen to
critical parts of recorded proceedings exactly as they occurred.
These are just a few examples of the cost and time efficiencies inherent
with digital reporting. There are many more. Do you have one to
share? Please relate your scenario to me at