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What do Freelancer Reporters need to know before covering a trial as an Official Court Reporter?

/ / Brenda Keyser, Cincinnati Court Reporting, Cleveland court reporting, Court Reporters, Litagation Support Service, National Court Reporting

What do Freelancer Reporters need to know before covering a trial as an Official Court Reporter?

By Brenda Keyser, RDR, CRR, CRC, CME, CLR

So you’re a freelance court reporter and you’ve been requested to cover a trial in a courtroom that uses electronic recording.  That’s great!  As reporters, we know that covering a trial with a live court reporter far outweighs electronic recording.  So what do you need to know?Litigation Services

  1. Where is the trial?  Is the location close enough you can travel daily to and from the courthouse or should you consider overnight arrangements nearby, especially if expedited transcripts may be required?
  2. How long will the trial last? Most judges require some sort of timeline to be set out before the first day of trial even begins.  Find out how long the assignment will last.  Can you cover every day of the trial or will you need backup reporters?   Who will cover if you are unable to attend in an emergency situation?
  3. Will the parties be requesting rough drafts and/or expedited transcripts? If so, do they know what witnesses and how quickly they need the transcripts turned around?  Maybe you need to set up a scopist or scopists, along with a proofreader or two, to help turn the work around most efficiently.
  4. How quickly is the court’s electronic recording available? Most CAT (computer-aided transcription) systems record electronically as you write stenographically, but it would be good to have a copy of the court’s audio once it’s available, especially if you need to prepare a trial transcript on appeal.
  5. Is there Internet access in the courtroom? You’ll need Internet access to send and receive work from your scopist and proofer and also to keep up with email communications with your reporting agency.
  6. Who will swear in witnesses? Ask the Judge or bailiff how they routinely handle this issue and follow their protocol.
  7. Who will mark exhibits? Again, follow the protocol of the courtroom staff.
  8. If video depositions are played instead of witnesses testifying live, then determine ahead of time how you will handle this in your record. For example, using a parenthetical to denote the testimony of Dr. X was played via video in your transcript.
  9. Is it okay to leave equipment in the courtroom overnight or on the weekends? Again, clarify this with the courtroom staff before leaving anything valuable.  If it’s not secure, take all equipment with you every time you leave for the day.

These are just few basic things you’ll need to know as you begin your temporary gig as an official court reporter.  If other issues surface, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Most official reporters are glad to help you out with any advice you may need.

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