Category Archives: Blog

Court Recorder Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the court recorder profession has a job growth outlook of 2 percent and an annual median salary of $49,500 per year, or $23.80 per hour.

court recorder jobs

Two percent is much slower than average, which is a sign that quality court recorders are increasingly difficult to find, making outsourcing this professional service more popular than ever. A career that offers relatively high pay compared to the required education (short-term, on-the-job training) is somewhat rare, allowing for the best court recorders to quickly rise to the top.

The BLS estimates the U.S. has just over 20,000 court reporters, which include videographers and reporters. Although the BLS points out that most court recorders work for government organizations, either at the local or state level, some prefer to work for broadcasting captioning departments, the hard-of-hearing or at businesses that outsource court recording services.

Becoming a Court Recorder

Many court reporters take vocational classes at a community college or trade school. Certificate programs are available, and most states require licensing by a state or other professional agency. Continuing education is also a common requirement to ensure court recorders are up to date on the latest technologies and best practices.

The BLS also points out that even though the job growth of court reporters is slow compared to other industries, the most experienced and well-trained among them will continue to enjoy the most desirable job prospects. Getting a continuing education credit or certification in a specialization like communications access real-time translation (CART) is one way to increase job prospects and pay.

Why So Slow?

It’s surprising that the growth rate of jobs for court reporters is slow, even as the demand for court recorders sustains. Increasingly, translations and footage of court proceedings are requested with a fast turn-around. Court recorders are hustling faster than ever, thankfully armed with technology that allows them to do their job even faster.

Court recording is a recession-proof job with little ebb and flow. There will always be a need for these legal professionals, and an increasing a need for them to work in the digital space and on a global scale. Interviewing an expert witness who might be overseas and providing a transcript almost immediately is an example of how court recorders are being asked to manage global situations at a fast clip.

Keep in mind that many entry-level jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or beyond fail to offer the median salary that court recorders enjoy. However, every state is different, and court recorders may need to achieve varying levels of education and certification based on where they live and want to work.

For information on Utah’s leading court recorder solution available to clients around the world, contact DepoMaxMerit Litigation Services, and find out more about outsourcing your needs.

Court Recorders and Mentorship

“No one understands court reporting like another court recorder,” says Rhonda Menor. Menor is a registered court reporter who established the Virtual Mentor Program with the National Court Recorder Association (NCRA).

court recorder mentor

In every industry, continuing education, support, a network and a mentor help lead to better professionals. Court recorders and videographers are pillars of the legal profession, masters at technology that nobody else knows (stenographs, for starters), and are in high demand as courts are overburdened with tasks and cases.

The NCRA has long been a platform for court recorders, and aims at encouraging excellence in the field. By matching seasoned mentors with those new to the profession (or students preparing for a career), a better future of court recording is assured.

Why Court Recorder Mentors Should Volunteer

A teacher has to be highly familiar with his or her material to pass that knowledge on to the next generation. Court recorder mentors might not know everything about the latest practices and technology, but they get up to speed quickly when they know a mentee is relying on them.

Court recorders who volunteer their time to better their overall profession are passionate about what they do, care about the latest advances, and they bring that commitment to every aspect of their job.

Court recording is also a profession that’s evolving quickly. Video recording is relatively new, and offering transcript turnarounds nearly in real time has become standard. In an era where everything is moving faster, court recorders have to keep up, and they have to do so with flawless, unbiased results. Extremely demanding, court recording is a skill and career path that requires incredible attention to detail and patience.

Is Your Court Recorder a Volunteer?

Mentorship is just one way the NCRA urges legal professionals to give back. The Angel Donor program gives court recorders the opportunity to donate time and effort to student scholarships, historic preservation efforts and help in securing and learning the latest technologies. Court recorders can also join an advisory committee or the NCRA Board of Directors, both committees continuously looking for dedicated professionals who want to give back.

Committees are also welcoming volunteers, including the Certified Legal Video Specialist Program, Constitution and Bylaws Committee, Committee on Professional Ethics and Council on Approved Student Education. Joining a committee shows that a court recorder is firmly rooted in their career, and you can rest easy knowing they take just as much pride in their daily (paid) tasks.

Asking potential court recorders or videographers about their philanthropy and volunteer efforts isn’t a must, but it will give you more insight into who they are and how involved they are in their profession. It can also open conversations during the interview process that reveals more about their character.

Interested in connecting with the best legal professionals in your area? Contact DepoMaxMerit Litigation Services, and you’ll link up with premium court recorders, many of whom embrace a life of philanthropy.

Court Recorder Audio Files Protected

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently passed a law to protect court recorders there from unreasonable and illegal demands of their audio files.

court recording utah

The Certified Court Reporters Association (CCRA) reports that even though the state has rules to ensure court recorders’ audio files are deemed “official records,” they weren’t technically considered a “work product.” Under the new law and guidelines, attorneys must have a court order before demanding an audio file.

In 1947, the work product doctrine was created, where the Supreme Court decided that “statements of witnesses obtained by an attorney prior to trial were privileged and thus protected from discovery.” If an item is considered a work product (and previously, audio files were not), they were also considered “privileged” and “protected,” unless of course there was a court order.

In New Jersey, CCRA legislative chairman Rick Paone says that he’s received numerous complaints about lawyers not treating court recorders’ audio files as work products. Some were requesting and even demanding audio files with a quick turnaround and weren’t required to show cause.

Paone became personally involved when one of his court recorders, an employee, was accused of leaving something out of the audio file. Even though the attorney who requested the file allegedly admitted to Paone that his client was troubled, the audio file was requested to appease the client.

Protection for Court Recorders

Accusing court recorders of not doing their jobs, and even falsifying documents, can severely damage the legal professional’s career. In extreme cases, court recorders may be wrangled into lawsuits (or face lawsuits themselves) when their work isn’t protected. Paone says when he refused to turn over the audio file, after his court recorder was accused of not fully recording testimony, the client fired the attorney and sued the court recorder for fraud and deception.

Ultimately, this case was dismissed, but it showcased what could happen when court recorders don’t have full protection. Key language is necessary to ensure court recorders’ audio files aren’t used against them. Passing this protection was a long and arduous task, but Paone says it was worth the effort. It required a full year to get a Civil Practice Committee recommendation, including additional weeks allowing for public comment.

A Serious Profession

New Jersey put the new language and law into effect Sept. 1, but not all states have such requirements. Being a court recorder requires extreme attention to detail, legal knowledge and the ability to offer un-biased, transparent and comprehensive recordings in numerous formats. It’s also a stressful job, especially when they get requests for copies with quick turnarounds (with or without a court order).

Sometimes court recorders are outsourced from reputable companies that offer legal professionals well-versed in local laws and practices. When hiring a court recorder, it’s paramount that they have the experience, skills and spotless reputation necessary to help ensure a smooth legal process.

Court recorders invest in continuing education to keep pace with the latest technology and laws, and should guarantee a swift turnaround time. If you need to hire a court recorder, court videographer or other legal professional in the Utah area, contact DepoMaxMerit Litigation Services, and rest easy knowing your needs are in good hands.

Court Recorder vs. Taped Recordings

Is a court recorder or a taped recording better in the judicial system?

Court Recorder Vs. Taped Recordings

According to the National Court Recorders Association (NCRA), after a brief love affair with taped recordings, the judicial system is again favoring the skills and personal touch only a court recorder can provide.

When taped recordings first became available, they were idolized just like any other new technology. However, it was soon discovered that taped recordings were no match for the court recorder.

Judicial systems have reported to the NCRA that court recorders are faster, more accurate and more cost-effective than taped recordings. Reports were sent to 500 media outlets showcasing how most courts are going back to court recorders after figuring out just how inaccurate and glitchy tape recordings can be.

When accuracy is critical, as is the case with most legal proceedings, you can’t chance a technical problem when capturing key testimony.

A History of Relying on the Court Recorder

Even during the peak of taped recordings’ popularity in court systems, big court cases didn’t take the risk.

For example, the trial of the Oklahoma City bombing case in the 1990s relied on court recorders to transcribe the proceedings. Missing recorded testimonies and witness narratives wasn’t an option.

In John E. DuPont’s trial, his attorneys demanded a court recorder in lieu of taped recordings so they could get transcripts daily. Surprisingly, taped recordings don’t have as quick of a turnaround, and it’s almost impossible to get same-day transcripts of them.

Even court systems and judges who regularly used taped recordings are now returning to court recorder services. Most notably, Texas and Nebraska judges were especially fond of taped recordings in the mid-90s. However, with the latest technology, both states have gone back to court recorders, who utilize electronic real-time translation to offer speedy transcripts within hours.

Humans Beat the Bots

San Antonio Judge Edward Prado told the NCRA, “Real-time court reporting and the ability to have immediate transcript is what caused me to switch back. It’s exciting because I don’t have to write notes. I can highlight parts of the transcript right in the computer.” He points out that real time is also beneficial to attorneys, and ultimately saves everyone time and money.

Previously, experts were forced to sit in courtrooms for days, but now they can look over the real-time transcript right before testifying.

Prado says he tried out taped recordings when his long-term court reporter retired, but problems began cropping up immediately. “Since the typists who were transcribing the tapes were not present during proceedings, they could only put in what they thought they heard,” he explained. Accuracy dropped drastically.

Prado’s court was also one of five chosen to experiment with only video recordings, and says it was a nightmare for appeals. Not transcribed, they required A/V equipment at the ready.

Ideal legal services can include court recorders, videographers and transcription experts. To secure your quality court recorder and other legal services, contact DepoMaxMerit Litigation.

Public and Litigation Services from the USB

The Utah State Bar is a great source for a variety of public and litigation services. They often refer both attorneys and potential clients alike to the state’s myriad external resources.

USB Litigation Services

For example, not all courts in Utah have court recorders and videographers readily available for all court proceedings. And if you need recordings outside of the courtroom, it’s important that attorneys and their clients hire the most skilled professionals with the latest equipment.

Court recorders and videographers are in demand for witness interviews and conference and video calls. They also can offer expert-level transcriptions on short notice.

With the help of the Utah State Bar, you can get recommendations on the best resources for litigation services, as well as non-biased tips on finding and retaining an attorney. Peruse an online directory of all law and paralegal members practicing in the state, and enjoy a lawyer referral service designed to match clients with the attorneys who best suit their needs.

Litigation Services that are Transparent and Straightforward

The law can be confusing and intimidating, especially for someone who’s new to the system. The language is complicated, and every state has different rules.

The LegalMatch Referral Service is another USB-certified matching system that helps clients find the most suitable legal needs in their state. For both systems, attorneys cannot pay to be highly matched or featured, ensuring a fair process that puts client needs first.

Legal Aid

In some cases, clients may qualify for reduced-rate legal services via a “modest means lawyer referral,” also available on the USB website. Financial qualifications apply, and can vary year to year. Most recently, the poverty guidelines in Utah were outlined for households with one to eight members.

Free legal clinics and centers, including the Utah Courts Self-Help Center, can be found throughout Utah. Search the database, filtered by keywords, to find complimentary clinics that address your needs.

Current popular clinics include the Young Lawyers Division Tuesday Night Bar for attorneys, the Utah State Bar Debtor’s Counseling Legal Clinic and the Elder Senior Center Legal Program. Attorneys have many options for free and low-cost legal services.

Great Source of Info

On the USB website, you also can find commonly asked questions about attorneys in the state, as well as a user-friendly breakdown of the types of law they practice and which ones are best for your needs. A checklist to help you prepare to meet with your attorney is available for customization, and a chart for understanding legal fees as well as settling fee disputes with your attorney is also featured.

You can download a myriad of free legal documents, and an online document creation system makes it easy for attorneys and clients alike to quickly draft necessary documents.

From a comprehensive legal assistance database to pro bono services and legal clinics by city, the Utah State Bar is a fantastic resource. You also can contact DepoMaxMerit Litigation Services to connect with top-ranked litigation services in the state.

Legal Support Continuing Education

Continuing education for the legal support industry is important so that court reporters and videographers can keep up to date with industry changes. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) offers accredited courses to these professionals.

Legal Support Education

Managed by the Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters (CAPR), the program abides by the NCRA bylaws, which were created by the NCRA Board of Directors in 1975.

More than 40 years ago, the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) program was kick-started to improve the court reporting field, taking it to a professional level that was verifiable for the first time. Court reporters who achieved registered status via testing and continuing education created a field that’s consistently proficient, well-rounded and technologically advanced.

Legal support workers can obtain numerous certifications, and these include Registered Merit Reporter (RMR), Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR) and two real-time certifications, the Certified Realtime Captioner and Certified Realtime Reporter (both increasingly in demand due to today’s digital, real-time needs).

The programs require a certain number of continuing education units (CEUs), an approach used by many adult learning programs. Today, commercial seminars and online options are offered to fulfill these CEUs.

Sustaining Legal Support Excellence

Information and technology are advancing quickly, and continuing education ensures legal support staff members have the skills and knowledge to stay competitive. Programs offer a high-quality education that’s consistently updated, so court reporters learn about the latest advances.

Court reporting requires an immense knowledge base that changes frequently (the NCRA estimates changes occur every seven years). In these programs, learners acquire new skills, become experts in niche areas and get acquainted with cutting-edge technology.

However, the NCRA encourages court reporters to delve deeper into subtler benefits, such as keeping an open mind, becoming a better-rounded reporter and becoming more entwined within the field.

Numerous studies tout continuing education, regardless of the subject, as key for workers to keep their minds sharp and engaged.

The goal of the NCRA is to provide certification and continuing education, promote higher education and skills, maintain standards of reporting, offer programs to strengthen the industry, stimulate professional and personal development, and offer an open registration policy.

Are Your Court Reporters Up to Date?

Many organizations value the legitimacy that certification provides. Having certification from an unbiased, independent accrediting body is highly prized, and NCRA’s certifications are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training, which has its own requirements for eligibility. This keeps the certification process fair while maintaining standards set by both governing bodies.

If you’re looking for a court reporter, check to see if a proper accrediting agency has OK’d their credentials.

Not all agencies and locations require certification, but checking on these is a fast, easy and effective way to make sure the legal support professional you hire is of the highest caliber. To connect with quality court reporters and get legal support in your area, contact DepoMaxMerit Litigation Services today.

History of the Court Recorder’s Stenograph

When you see a court recorder’s stenograph in a courtroom, movie or on the news, it might look like a relic from the past, but this special tool has a rich history.

Stenograph History

Miles Bartholomew invented the first shorthand machine in 1877 (well, the first one that actually worked). It was consistently fine-tuned while patents were secured between 1879 and 1884. Bartholomew owned a company in Illinois, the United States Stenograph Corp., which was created around his most famous invention. Writers around the world used the original, Bartholomew-style stenograph until 1937.

The first machines had 10 keys, and each counted as a single-letter stroke. This created dashes and dots, similar to Morse code. Bartholomew himself was a court reporter who was later dubbed the “Father of the Stenograph.” His machine was the first to succeed in court recording, and it also was used in some schools, especially those training future court reporters.

However, the first stenograph didn’t bring much financial success to Bartholomew.

Quite the “Report”

Bartholomew wasn’t bothered that his stenograph didn’t make him rich, because as a court reporter, he believed in what he had created.

“The old prejudices against machine stenography are giving way to confidence in, and acknowledgement of, its superiority over the pen, and the tide of public favor is raising rapidly in the front,” he wrote in 1883.

Such sentiments largely can be agreed upon today, as many people rely on mobile devices such as laptops and smartphones to do their writing instead of a pen.

In 1889, George Kerr Anderson created the Anderson typewriter, another shorthand machine. This one had the first keyboard that let users depress more than one key at a time. It also featured English letters instead of dots and dashes.

Full syllables and words could be written with a single stroke for the first time, vastly speeding up the process of taking shorthand. Anderson used the typewriter as his inspiration, but saw the single-letter-at-a-time idea too cumbersome for shorthand.

His machine wasn’t widely accepted, but it was used to record President William McKinley’s inaugural speech, and that earned it its spot in shorthand history.

Short and Sweet

The Universal Stenotype Co. in Ireland invented the Stenotype Shorthand Machine in 1911. It had a fully depressible keyboard, could write numbers and words phonetically with each stroke, and featured the fewest strokes necessary per output. It won the 1914 National Shorthand Reporter Association’s speed contest, taking down 30 expert pen writers with an impressive 99.3 percent accuracy rating.

Weighing just over 11 pounds, it was still much lighter than similar machines before it — its predecessor weighed a whopping 54 pounds!

That was over 100 years ago, and stenograph shorthand machines are still going strong. Connect with a court recorder who’s a pro at stenography by reaching out to DepoMaxMerit Litigation today.

Court Videographer Standards

Court videographers aren’t required by all court systems and employers to hold Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) Council status from the National Court Reporters Association. However, the standards set forth by the association help ensure reliable, high-quality and protected videography results.

Court Videographer Standards

All court videographers should abide by these standards, which ensure that the videographer works in tandem with the reporter (if there is one) in order to protect and promote high-quality recordings.

One standard says that all tripods should be fluid-head, which has proven to be the best option for court and litigation recordings. Also, having an optical zoom ratio of 10:1 produces the best quality. You need both a skilled videographer and the best equipment to achieve the best results.

A cap of 120 minutes is put on all recordings, unless special circumstances or requests from a judge overrule this standard.

High Standards

When it comes to video formatting, any type is acceptable for depositions, as long as it has simultaneous backup video recording capability. It also needs to have manual audio-level adjustment controls.

It’s the court videographer’s responsibility to give the court reporter audio recordings that have the output via the audio mixer or another compatible mixer source. It’s also the videographer’s job to make the call on light levels, ensuring they meet the minimum illumination requirements for the camera in use. If necessary, ancillary lighting should be added.

The gain boost circuits of the recording device should be at 0 db or off, unless special circumstances demand otherwise. Prior to filming, the videographer has to check the room for uniform color balance, correcting the color temperature if necessary.

Backlight should be masked out if it will cause excessive contrast, and the ancillary lighting should make the people filmed look as natural as possible. It shouldn’t create shadows, so soft lighting approaches via diffusion media, umbrella techniques or bounce is most often used.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Cameras should be white balanced to the light before test recordings are made, and the videographer should arrange the equipment (and people if possible) to capture at least three-quarter frontal views and preferably frontal. Any equipment used needs to have the capacity to continuously display and record both date and time, which is needed for index of events logging.

So much more goes into court videography than most people realize, which is why it’s such an in-demand specialty!

These are only half of the standards expected of the agency as well as reputable court videographers in general. Sometimes courtroom lighting can be difficult, and if a videographer doesn’t have the knowledge, skills and equipment necessary, then he or she might not be able to provide clear, efficient recordings.

To make sure you have the best possible third-party court videographer, contact DepomaxMerit Litigation Services and get connected with a professional who knows the standards and abides by them.

Court Recorder Duties

Did you know court reporters are often the ones who prescribe the oaths witnesses have to take?

Court Reporter Duties

Many times, it’s the recorder or reporter who actually gives oaths in the courtroom, especially to interpreters. The interpreter’s oath is a symbol of a court’s commitment to integrity, a pledge to neutrality and professionalism. As an officer of the court, the recorder administers this oath as well as the oath to the witness whose testimony is being interpreted.

The wording can vary from state to state and county to country, but all interpreter oaths ask the professional to swear that their interpretation is done to the best of their ability. Around the country, the different wordings reflect the various duties and responsibilities an interpreter undertakes.

In most states, the court recorder, judge, clerk and notary public is legally able to take testimony, administer oaths and even collect some fees.

Duties and Responsibilities

Just like in any job, a court recorder wears many hats. Besides providing fast, quality court recordings and prescribing oaths, he or she also may be in charge of maintaining records, including misdemeanor cases, felony cases, civil and family cases, small claims, juvenile cases and traffic citations. Depending on the size of the court and how many recorders they have, one recorder might oversee a number of files.

A recorder is also considered the custodian of documents within the official records. As a permanent document repository, this is an incredible responsibility to shoulder. Usually, a permanent employee within the court is charged with this task, while an outsourced or third-party recorder is responsible for timely and high-quality deliverance of such documents.

Beyond the Courtroom

It makes sense that court recorders work in a courtroom, but their skills with quickly transcribing speech to written content is in high demand in a number of other industries as well. Government agencies and broadcasting corporations often need this type of transcribing, for example.

Using voice writing mechanisms, stenographic machines or special hardware, a court recorder can be hired to work in nearly any industry. Stenotype machines are a must for real-time situations, while voice writing machines let the recorder talk into a microphone and then transcribe later.

Court recorders also may be in charge of editing and storing the documents. Computerized dictionaries that are linked to their reporting devices help them manage the mounting data.

The exact duties of a court recorder are mapped out before the professional is hired, and in some cases a recorder might have posts at numerous agencies, courthouses or companies.

Hiring an outsourced court recorder is a fantastic way to get a skilled professional only when you need one, and DepoMaxMerit Litigation is a reputable resource for the most experienced staff available.

Court Recordings on Speed

Court recordings are famous for being taken down at lightning speed, but how do court recorders get so fast?

Court Recording Speed

It’s an acquired skill that takes a lot of practice, and it requires special dictation training.

The average word speed is about 200 words per minute (WPM), which might seem unbelievable to anyone who challenged themselves with Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. You’ll still see job postings for administrative staff positions requiring 60 WPM, so you can imagine how fast 200 WPM really is.

Court Recorders Are Real Machines

It’s those funky-looking recording machines you see on television that help court recorders type as fast as they do.

You also may have noticed that these machines are pretty loud, and for good reason. Court recorders know that different keys make different sounds. They’re trained to listen to phonetics rather than thinking about how words are spelled. As such, their machines aren’t your usual QWERTY keyboards, but instead have 22 keys that are unmarked.

These machines are in two halves, one dedicated to the left hand and the other to the right. There’s a separate key level for thumbs, too. On the left side, initial phonetics (such as the hard “k” you hear in words like “can”) are found. On the right, final phonetics (like the “n” in “can”) are found. Where the thumbs rest you’ll find the vowels, but there are only four in the court recording world.

You have the short “a”, long “a”,’ short “i”, long “i”, as well as combinations to make the oo or ow sounds. These four vowel sounds are all court recorders need to drum up a nearly perfect transcription.

Spelling for Court Recorders

Court recorders care about the quality of their work, but they’re trained not to care about the actual context or spelling of what they hear. Instead, they listen only to sounds, which dictates how their fingers fly across the keys. That’s the real trick to typing so quickly.

There’s no way anyone, even a veteran court recorder, could type as quickly on a QWERTY keyboard, especially if they were challenged to listen to meaning at the same time.

Real Know-it-Alls

Nobody’s perfect, but court recorders get pretty close. They have an accuracy rating of about 98.5 percent at that 200 WPM pace.

Court recording also requires much more than being a fast typist. These professionals are also well-versed in medical terminology, legal jargon, anatomy and traditional English grammar. Speed plus a host of specialized knowledge makes these experts critical to the legal system.

Anyone interested in being a court recorder has a desire for accuracy, doesn’t get easily distracted and knows that multi-tasking leads to mistakes. It takes a special kind of person to be successful at this challenging task.

When you need a court recording, ask potential recorders about their speed and accuracy rates, so you can be sure you’re getting the best the field has to offer.