Lighting the fuse: It is time to get rid of court reporters in the federal courts

For a long time now, I have used digital audio recording, rather than a court reporter.   Digital audio recording is the marriage of a computer and a sophisticated sound system with multiple channels.  It is monitored by the courtroom deputy in real-time thus eliminating entirely the necessity of a court reporter.

Here are the reasons:

  • By uploading the digital audio recording of a trial or hearing every day to CM/ECF, the federal courts become more transparent to the public by an order of magnitude.  The whole world can listen to a trial I conduct in Nebraska for a very small cost–if I screw up, then the whole world can know it.  And, that is a VERY good thing.
  • While you will hear contrary arguments from court reporters, there is no independent, scientifically based, study that suggests that digital audio recording is less accurate than stenographic recording. In fact, the believable studies that have been conducted suggest that there is no difference or audio recording is slightly more accurate.
  • The reliability of digital audio is as good as or better than a court reporter. In fact, I had far more problems with court reporters getting sick or getting tired or their steno machines failing than I have had problems with digital audio.
  • Digital audio recording can do “play backs” and judges can annotate and make notes on their computer screen as the digital recording is made.
  • Digital audio recording saves the federal courts money.   For example, an internal study I conducted of our court three years ago indicated that the public would be saved about $110,000 per year if 3 reporters were replaced with digital audio recording.  My study was very conservative.  The Clerk’s office senior management was consulted about it and found no basis to dispute the conclusion.
  • Lawyers experienced with digital audio recording love it because they can log into CM/ECF anytime, night or day, and review the record when writing a brief or for any other reason.  A lawyer can do so without having to  pay a reporter for a transcript. Citations to digital audio are easy.  One simply refers to the time-counter used to play the audio.
  • A large federal trial court, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, implemented digital audio recording successfully as a part of pilot project.  The District of Nebraska was also a participant in that pilot project, and our experience was uniformly positive as well.

I want to be clear. I don’t want any more court reporters hired, but I don’t want court reporters fired.  I do want court reporters replaced with digital audio as they retire or resign. Given the sequester, now is the time to begin this process. To put the matter in stark relief, for every court reporter we replace, we can devote the savings to retaining essential personnel such as federal public defenders.

RGK

132 responses

  1. Pingback: A Legal System without Court Reporters?

  2. Judge Kopf I think this is a bad idea. What happens is you get transcripts back that don’t clearly reflect who is speaking. That means a garbled record for purposes of appeal.

    • Jim,

      With respect, when it comes to digital audio in the Article III federal trial courts, you simply don’t know what you are talking about.

      You don’t get a garbled record for appeal that fails to reflect who is speaking any more than you do with a steno reporter. After careful study, that is one reason why the Judicial Conference of the United States (the federal courts governing body) authorized the use of digital audio recording as a substitute for court reporters.

      As digital audio is used in our court, the courtroom deputy monitors the digital audio in real time wearing a head set, and annotations are made to the computer record to avoid speaker-identity issues. Additionally, you avoid rude interruptions from court court reporters who bark at lawyers in front of the jury or witness when the court reporter is having trouble keeping track of who is speaking. The courtroom deputy simply and silently makes an annotation for the transcriber. I have used digital audio for many years, in many complex multiparty trials and many hearings with multiple speakers, and the problem you describe has never occurred more frequently than compared with an in-court steno reporter.

      You may have experience in other forums with older technology or with poorly trained courtroom employees. When it comes to the Article III trial courts, the problem you describe sounds very much like the unsupported argument thrown out by court reporters, based solely on a few anecdotes.

      To be clear, I don’t doubt your sincerity, but I doubt your experience with digital audio properly used in the Article III federal trial courts. All the best.

      RGK

        • No, she has other duties. Interestingly, one of the CRDs I frequently use was a court reporter and she is very high digital audio recording. In fact, she was an integral member of the national pilot.

          All the best.

          RGK

      • I see you have little respect for the talents of a court reporter as you describe an interruption to protect the record as a “bark.” Your description of a deputy who has no training in keeping a record whatsoever annotating the recording to indicate cross talk or attorneys completely talking on top of each other only alerts the transcriber where it took place. It still will be impossible to know what was being said. I am a court reporter and have transcribed recorded sessions and you cannot get a completely accurate record. If something was said unintelligible, the reporter will interrupt because many times the tape will not pick it up any better.

      • Judge, I just transcribed a 500-page court proceeding from a digital recording provided by the court. I could not believe the inaudibles that I had to put in. There were so many that I didn’t want to put my name on the transcript. I must admit, I pride myself in having no inaudibles in transcripts that I prepare from testimony that I was present to hear with my own ears and see with my own eyes. I do not hesitate to interrupt for clarification. Only time will tell. I just hope court reporting will not be extinct by that time.

      • Judge,
        Do you recognize these words?
        I love good writing, particularly about federal trial judges. I don’t like nasty or mean.
        I don’t like bullies or character assassins. I don’t like repetitive rants.
        They are excerpts from the “rules” of your blog.
        Do you not consider part of the title from your July 2013 post, “IT’S TIME TO GET RID OF COURT REPORTERS,” as nasty, mean, or bullying? Do you consider Mr. Hubbard’s many, long-winded, and sometimes identical posts, to be “repetitive rants”? Do you consider the incorrect use of the word “insure” rather than the appropriate “ensure” to be a product of “good writing”?
        Last week, I happened upon your blog when searching “the history of court reporting.” If I ever have a need to repeat that search in the future, I fully expect to see your name listed as the pioneering, fuse-lighting, trail-blazing leader who started the quest to GET RID OF COURT REPORTERS. I am sure you’ll feel quite proud of your accomplishment.
        After reading the July edition of your blog in its entirety, I was left with many unanswered questions. I’d very much appreciate your answering without the same excessive bias that was used in several of your other. And I beg you to look beyond any poor writing I’ve set forth
        • Why the inflammatory title?
        Just my opinion, but your title suggests you don’t want to simply inform the public of the wonders of advanced audio recording. You want to annihilate court reporters as you do so.
        • What on God’s green earth is so exceptional about this voice recording technology that you deemed it more worthy of your unwavering loyalty than your friend is?!
        • Are you being paid by the firm who installed your court’s equipment? Maybe receiving a percentage for any prospective customers you send their way?
        I don’t wish to be disrespectful, but I cannot for the love of God come up with any other plausible explanation for your behavior (which I assume is still deemed “good” even after you proudly ran all the district court reporters away. Because, after all, those over-paid underlings needed to be tossed).
        • What is the margin of error in your “independent, internal” study? There was no control group mentioned. No other fact-finding participants? No involvement or comments from any fellow Article III Federal Court Trial Judge/audio-recording enthusiasts?
        • Did you really expect to receive anything other than glowing remarks about your “independent study” when you “consulted” with senior management from your court’s Clerk’s Office? No, seriously. Especially after watching you “unfriend” their fellow employee over this issue.
        Judge, I’m not an economist or a scientist or a budget analyst OR, believe it or not, a court reporter. But given my day-to-day experience with cost/worth analysis (get the yard cut, or cut it myself; hire a plumber, or fix it myself), I’m curious about the REAL cost of this flawless, fabulous, human-free, time-stamped, friend-defying, no-less-accurate-than-a-court-reporter’s-record recording technology.
        So, let’s put aside the argument of who or what method is most accurate. Let’s look past the fact that you could not have chosen (intentionally at that) a more offensive title for stating your opinion. And let’s pretend that anyone who’s “not brain dead” would not know better than to think what follows that title could be anything but a severely slanted point of view. Let us, as you suggest, consider only monetary expenditures, since apparently, cost is the only factor you feel worth considering when you make a business decision. Oh wait, there is also your weak, “straw man argument” you use about transparency and the sacrifice you’re making for the greater good of the public.
        • Did you take pointers from Obama when you conducted your independent budget analysis?
        Perhaps since your court was part of a pilot program, you got to keep everything “for free.” Maybe there was no charge for the equipment or any related installation fees, origination fees; it’s a sunny day in March fees, or any other fluff fees that might be imposed on a new, non-pilot-program-participating customer. If that’s the case, your findings are very biased. And if that’s the case, please answer the questions as if you are a new customer installing a new system.
        • After performing a pilot program (which would be expensive) and determining the best method to meet a customer’s needs, what does the happily married equipment and installation cost? (probably a little more than a few pc’s bought online, as Mr. Hubbard mentions)
        • What are the costs associated with any update installation to employ the latest whistles and bells of this frill-free technology?
        • What are the repair costs when the “RECORD” button doesn’t light up?
        • What are the preventive maintenance costs?
        You know, those little breeze-bys that are performed by uniformed employees of the equipment company. Because even preventive maintenance plans have a cost.
        • Has an equipment malfunction ever caused any court proceeding to be postponed or altogether rescheduled?
        Please spare me the “it’s not happened in my district/court room any more often than the mishaps I’ve encountered with those lousy court reporters…” I would not want to approach that scenario with a calculator in hand.
        • Has your equipment manager ever called in sick?
        Time IS money. With that adage in mind,
        • Is it truly money well spent for you and highly paid attorneys to spend your time sifting through tapes in lieu of requesting a transcript? How DOES that time somehow morph into cost savings?
        In the apparently rare event that you do need a transcript….
        • How long must one wait to have those tapes transcribed?
        • What is the cost for a voice-recorded transcript? One prepared by a transcriptionist, of course. Not one of those high-priced court reporters.
        I was not quite sure, after reading Mr. Hubbard’s responses, if the cost for transcribing was $1, $2, or $3 per page. I just remember seeing several different amounts stated, and I seem to recall one of his posts saying something along the lines of… “I’m talking about a ‘ROUGH DRAFT.” We could provide a final, corrected copy, “FOR AN ADDITIONAL CHARGE OF COURSE!”
        • What percentage of your monthly electricity expenses are incurred to fire that puppy up and run it all day (the sophisticated recording system)?
        I bet it’s not a substantial cost savings over what expenses result from plugging up one of those steno, shorthand, symbol-producing, machine thingy’s that are used predominantly by those damn over-paid, transcript-hording, hooky-playing, easily tiring, barking, court reporters. Damn those court reporters! I say we GET RID OF THEM ALL and save the public a buck and promote courtroom transparency for all the world!
        • Judge, have you responded to Debbie who posted on Dec 8? MAS who also posted on Dec 8. Anonymous from Dec 3?
        Sir, I was around when (written) shorthand and Dictaphone machines were used. I have witnessed how painfully long it takes to transcribe a 15-minute speech.
        • So why, Judge, WHY are you such a staunch advocate of a “technology” that would send us BACKWARDS in time to an archaic, laborious, time-consuming method of transcribing!?
        Now, may a set forth some questions regarding quality, integrity, and pride in one’s work.
        • Why do you continue to downplay the accuracy of court reporters’ records, ignore or ridicule the fact that with a real-time reporter, you have immediate access to ENGLISH TEXT – not symbols and not recordings through which one must sift?
        • Why do you refuse to compare apples with apples?
        The point (I guess) of your article is that all courts across the globe should consider replacing their court reporters with voice recorders. However, while you encourage its adoption and glorify its advantages you are quick to point out that you are speaking strictly about its use in YOUR OWN experience in YOUR district in YOUR PARTICULAR ARTICLE III FEDERAL TRIAL JUDGE courtroom and only in very CERTAIN AND LIMITED situations.
        Judge, if you take the time to respond to my epistle, would you mind attempting to convince me that your motivation for suggesting that it’s “TIME TO GET RID OF COURT REPORTERS” is not because you’ve been denied access to a transcript, and not because you felt embarrassed when a court reporter “barked” at you and others for the entire courtroom to witness.
        When and if you respond, will you promise to tell the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth?
        Because Judge, I don’t think it’s possible for this method, this “technology,” to produce savings. Not even if Obama does the math.
        But readers may have at least found your arguments more believable, and they may have been more respectful in their responses had you not been so intentionally and shamefully disrespectful from the title of your blog forward.

        • Teresa, you are married to a court reporter or you work with one. Very informative collection of opinions and statements. I seriously doubt this sitting federal judge will answer all of your invitations. More than 35 years ago long before the miracles of digital were on the drawing board, many judges in the federal court opted to use reel to reel recordings over a court reporter. This judge just happens to have a very busy blog and he has quite a following. Court reporting and court reporters is just a fraction of his personal penchants. One thing is for sure. Contemporary stenographic court reporting is dying. Nobody in sufficient numbers are even interested in verbatim reporting. Those who are struggle three and for some four years to graduate but graduation remains a stark 5% of the total class. This is a cocktail for total implosion. In the meantime Microsoft and other international corporations are inventing and reinventing every six months faster ever more incredible software that is already creating real time transcription and even in real time converting to a separate file simultaneously translating to a foreign language. By example, click on this link.

          http://www.geekwire.com/2012/goodbye-human-translators-microsoft-demos-robust-speech-recognition-technology

          NOW, for kids raised on Nintendo and X-Box, and other interactive toys, should we really hope that they who are today’s Flash Gordon’s of the Information Age are they really going to disabuse themselves of the obvious potential for this technology and take up a shorthand machine with just only a 5% chance of graduating after spending for private schooling as much as $40,000 in tuition and equipment? No, today’s steno court reporters are simply facing the same extinction as did the pen writers who preceded them more than 60 years ago and everybody knows it such as those entities that run the courts. Court reporters only exist in metropolitan America. They do not exist in rural America. Only digital recordings exist in rural America. It’s simply a matter of time.

          • I am not married to a court reporter, nor am I related to any.
            Look, I get what both you and the Judge are saying. I really do. I don’t doubt that this technology will only get better and will soon permeate all courtrooms. I understand there is a shortage of Court Reporters. But you yourself have said, “if you speak carefully and slowly…” You’ve waffled on the cost. Don’t tout something as a smidge short of perfection when it’s not. More than a few reporters have commented on their experiences with unclear recordings. The Judge ignores those comments or downplays the recorders’ shortcomings by making tacky comparisons to Court Reporters. There’s no need to bash Court Reporters. If the technology is so superb, focus on it.
            I think it’s obvious by the length of my comments that the Judge absolutely lit my fuse. But I don’t care if he answers me or not. I just wanted to vent, and doing so by commenting with lots of sarcasm is what works best for me.There’s just no substitute for sarcasm.
            You can’t come up with an accurate cost of something if you don’t take into consideration all the factors which affect the bottom line.
            But more than his one-sided comments, I thought his approach and many of his comments were very belittling and very disrespectful. As were mine. Oh but do I feel better. :)
            I’ve watched people in positions of authority and power abuse it and use it to intimidate. And I think that’s what he did. I don’t have any power or authority over the Judge, so my words won’t bother him. But let’s say a Congressman wrote an article and said something along the lines of “Article III Judges should not be allowed to stick around for life; who the hell made THAT decision?? And who determines the definition of “good behavior”? What a crock! I say let’s change the rules and get rid of the old geezers. Their salaries are too high anyway. There pensions are too costly, cause the dang guys seem to hang on forever. We could save the public a lot of money if we threw a few to the curb. Get some fresh minds and opinions into the mix…..”
            I DO NOT feel that way. Just wanted to spread a little more holiday cheer.

            • Teresa, At least you do not cower behind the name Anonymousl ike a number of individuals have here on this blog.

              Unfortunately you, as many, do not focus on the issue of the court reporters but move off into other areas. You realize you can start a blog of your own on Hercules and theUmpire, don’t you?

              By the way I have always been using voice recognition to translate my voice into text in this blog and on LinkedIn and everywhere else. It is quite amazing. Accuracy is in the eyes and ears of the beholders especially when it comes to cost, relative to cost. It is all in the mind of the beholder.

              You know very well that accuracy as the technology improves, the speed of microprocessor chips, artificial intelligence, and much more that we need not get into here, but just use your imagination,
              We can only assume you are a highly intelligent individual, you have shown that you express yourself very clearly, Therefore you verily understand that voice recognition, multiple independent speaker voice recognition, regardless of accent, will be successfully transcribed With a very high percentage of accuracy approaching 100%.

              No it will likely never be successful at 100%, but I have known court reporters who have handed in trash because they didn’t have the guts to speak up when they were not getting it down, they did
              not have a backup audio player to supplement their personal notetaking, many court reporters in history have lost their shorthand notes and complete trials have had to be redone.

              You just have to do a Google search for “court reporter loses notes” and you will discover this for yourself. You don’t have to take my word for it.

              This is not bashing court reporters. This is an advisory, as are all blogs on Internet forums, like John the Baptist, who was preaching a new way of doing things, the future is coming and it
              does not include court reporters as we have heretofore experienced here in the United States.

              Did you know that We are really the only country in the world that still uses court reporters? Everybody else a long time ago went to Digital audio recording and prior to that to reel to reel
              reporting. All because the court reporting associations, state-level and at the national level, they failed to advertise to bring new blood into the system.

              That is the travesty of the whole situation. The national court reporters Association and all state court reporters associations failed miserably to advertise and attract new blood. They both shot
              themselves in the foot, and more appropriately, they both shot themselves in the head.

              Therefore it is no wonder why court administrators, and judges, have to deal with this obviousness and therefore have to plan to bring in technology that has zero to do with court reporters.

              We have technology today where several people participate and a transcript is made soon after they have spoken. Just go to YouTube and type in the name Hubbard and Associates And you will see several examples, even Courtroom examples, a courtroom in the federal court In the state of Iowa, where all the voices are transcribed automatically by software technology.

              Every word is tied to the sound that created it.

              Yes, you will see mistakes all over the place, but to a poor Public Defender, who does not have the budget today because of the federal sequester, that has virtually been shutting down the federal public defender system, I dare say that an assistant Public defender going to this technology, to save on expenses, can now have necessarily same day or next day transcript in this format and the format will only become even more user-friendly as well as more accurate as time goes by and now that assistant public defender’s budget will only pay a fraction of what it now pays to a court reporter for real-time or same day or next day transcript.

              I was a former federal court reporter in Washington DC. I am very familiar with the rates. So I know what I’m talking about. These rates are published and are on the Internet as this is public information.

              So no, what you see at Hubbard and Associates on YouTube, is not the final transcript, but it is simply a working draft. You asked about a working draft. If you were charged with a federal criminal offense, and you were defending yourself, by yourself, or with an attorney, dare I say, you, Teresa, would rather spend a fraction of what you would normally spend To get a verifiable
              transcript as in this format that I present in Hubbard and Associates, rather than having to pay the
              full boat price to a court reporte knowing that you could click on any passage within the transcript and the video or the audio would come to play so that you could then crucify the prosecution witnesses who were lying against you And now truly and honestly convince the jury that you were in the right and the prosecution is wrong. But, if you insisted on doing it the old fashion way, you might find yourself without the armory that you are entitled to, and without the proper weapons to fend off the lying prosecutorial witnesses, you end up spending a lot of time in jail.

              Well, these are certainly considerations that I am sure even the prosecution side of a criminal trial and as well as the public and the private lawyers who defend criminals, rightly or wrongly, they would go after this technology with a vengeance if the Judicial Conference, the body of judges who write the rules of procedure in the federal courts, were to adopt this kind of technology, not only to save money, but to help in the defense of everyone’s constitutional rights to defend themselves to the best of their skill and ability which necessarily means being able to get a verbatim transcript, such as presented by Hubbard and Associates, and being able to review trial testimony so that they could better defend themselves knowing that they have the video as well as the audio to be able to back up what they are reading or to make corrections as necessary when quoting the record, or simply just pointing and clicking and playing back the audio or video As the case maybe.

              But if you insist on burning a hole into your deep pocket and spending big bucks on transcripts that may be only two words of every sentence to be corrected, as opposed to getting every eight words or nine words correct in every sentence using superb voice technology, and it will only get better, the technology will never regress go back to the beginning, it can only improve with time, and in the meantime, court reporters, are aging, retiring, dying and schools are closing.

              Now what do you have to say?

              • My God, Steve, you’re wordier than I !! I’m not capable staying focused for the extensive length of time required for me to get through your comments. I’ll try to do a more thorough read-thru after a good night’s sleep.
                I will say this, I had actually gone to You Tube and watched sev of your videos. And I have to admit, it IS fascinating technology.
                I have two boys. Actually, I should say two young men. One is in his fourth of five years at Notre Dame, earning a dual degree in Physics and Engineering. He is very interested in getting an internship w/a somewhat small company…ready for this… that builds robots. He would love to land a job in CA in Silicon Valley after graduation, but he knows the chances are remote. He has what it takes, and he knows this; but the competition is stout. But I digress. My point is that yes I understand that great strides are being made with varied technologies in every field imaginable. I’m hoping that someday a robot that will have the capabilities of cooking and cleaning will be built. Preferably before I die.
                My younger son is in the Honors Engineering program at Auburn. He is quite gifted at “figuring things out…” (I’m sure there must be a better phrase). Such as grabbing cables to try to connect his computer to his TV so he could access the internet and see it on his television screen. I asked him how he knew how to do that. He told me he didn’t, he was just going to wing it.
                The point to my nauseating bragging is that they absolutely grew up with X-Box, computers and the like. And they will both be employed (God willing) in a very exciting period as technology advances.
                Oh, I did get a kick out of your vision of how I might benefit from Hubbard and Assoc technological wonders. HOWEVER, (there’s always a however), you make it sound as though with a RT transcript, that there’s no way to find excerpts and/or that it would be so incorrect that it would be unhelpful. I can vouch for this, if you’re involved in any sort of litigation, be it criminal or civil, and assuming there was a reporter at all depositions, I assure you, I could and did easily find a particular section in the transcript of the liar’s deposition that I wanted to re-read. And that was without doing a search. AND, the transcript was completely accurate. This I know b/c I remember clearly all the BS answers provided and where that BS fell within said transcript. The lying B. But I digress…again.
                My point is I know that many reporters will audio record as a backup to ensure their transcript is accurate, especially if they had trouble hearing at some point.
                Given that you worked as a CR for just a few years, are you going to sit here and tell me your records were inaccurate and that with an electronic copy in addition to the hard copy that one would have major difficulties searching and finding certain sections?! OH PULEASE! So be honest, what WOULD it cost for a pauper public defender to obtain a full, FINAL transcript of proceedings (w/your technology) so I could read and be equipped to blast those lying prosecutorial witnesses out of the water. (And you know I would). And, what would it cost for the pauper public defender to get the audio if he so desired?
                Now, not being familiar w/your technology, while I think it would be entertaining to watch witnesses, so you could possibly see by their body language and eyes at what points they were most uncomfortable with their lies, perhaps have a better idea of where in their testimony of lies were their most profound weaknesses thereby arming that pauper public defender with an ample supply of ammo with which he could and use to exploit said weaknesses and nail the lying sob’s. :) That would be entertaining. But necessary? The audio would be nice as well. But necessary?
                As far as which method I prefer, if (as was NOT my preference but what other’s preferred), I filed a lawsuit on a contingency, in the grand scheme of things, when an attrny takes 40 percent of any compensation, who cares if he saved on the damn transcript.

                • Teresa, your reply to Judge Kopf proves to me that you are a lady after all. And thank you for labeling the technology of voice transcription as presented by Hubbard and Associates, as fascinating. That proves to me that you are indeed open minded. So it seems that you now accept the fact that independent and multiple voice or speech recognition is the next generation, and actually has arrived, But you still can’t get around your passionate feelings for the court reporter.

                  I thank you for that as well because I am still a court reporter, a stenographic court reporter. I am in my 43rd year of being a court reporter. I just happen to be one of those very few court reporters
                  who is also open minded after having seen John the Baptist in the Jordan River espousing the virtues of a new technology, So I’m doing what I think is only wise, I am playing both ends of the
                  field.

                  If either of your two sons one of which is attending Notre Dame know what that means, then I know you know what that means. By the way I am sure you are very proud of them. I don’t know them and I’m very proud of them as well.

                  http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/?page_id=445

                  This link is demonstrating the page rates that federal court reporters are allowed to charge. They cannot charge less and they cannot charge more than what is shown here.

                  Now, to use the aforementioned technology Hubbard and Associates, let me tell you the rates that are applicable for this fascinating technology.

                  Typically, there are at least two parties in a case. There is the government and there is a defendant in a criminal case. In a civil case, there is one plaintiff and there is one defendant. The
                  federal rates do not distinguish between if you are poor, rich, prosecutor or a civil litigant. The rates are what they are.

                  For a finished a 30 day transcript, the Judicial Conference, allows the court reporter to charge just under five dollars per page for a finished, proofread, and presumably 100% accurate transcript And remember they do not get it before 30 days unless that court reporter feels somewhat
                  magnanimous towards one or more of the parties. They are not able to read or review anything until the 30th day.

                  Now comes along Hubbard and Associates and for getting the transcript at the same time as the federal court reporter, the charge is just one dollar per page per party, And yes, it is not the
                  finished product, so this example of our rates would be ridiculous. But those are still our rates.

                  However, what we propose is that every federal court trial should have the transcript the very next day. But this is literally impossible in the federal court system because not every federal court reporter is even equipped to provide next day delivery.

                  They can try but they are not equipped to do so. 90% of all federal Court trials are criminal. And there simply is not the budget to enrich the court reporter at a flat rate of $6.66 per page for side one, and $1.20 per page for the other side. They do not have the budget.

                  So that’s not going to happen.

                  With Hubbard and Associates methodology, it could very well happen when the cost is only $1.00 per page per party, or our minimum of two dollars gross per page they could have next day delivery that is interactive and synchronized to the courtroom video.

                  Then we move up to 14 day delivery and according to the federal rates, here the rate would be $6.24 per page for a final certified proofread transcript. Again, we are assuming both sides want the original order and a copy ordered by the opposing party.

                  Next we move to the next day delivery. Doing the math of combining the original order plus the copy order, the page rate is $7.86 per page.

                  Hubbard and Associates page rate is still a miserable one dollar per page per party. The federal court reporter rate is of course for a final certified proofread transcript. Our example is just for a working draft. It is not a final proofread certified transcript.

                  Our method of madness is in capturing the pocketbooks of the parties where they make the choice that if Hubbard and Associates can provide an Interactive,synchronized verbatim transcript for just $2.00 per page as opposed to the original party paying $6.66 per page, would the government, or indigent public defender, or a pro se defendant, or even gluttonous corporations such as Microsoft, IBM, or General Motors, they said to themselves, “why do we need to spend $6.66 for ordering a certified transcript when I can get at the same time an interactive transcript that Mr. Hubbard shows is indeed a very a workable transcript, our experts can be looking and reviewing against the audio or video, as the case may be, and then excerpt what we need in order to Cross-examine witnesses with? All we need do is do a search within Mr. Hubbards interactive transcript, land on that portions we need and want to play back, or read back using our own mouths, would it not be more effective to just play back the very words in the video that the witnesses themselves used in addition to their behavior on the stand that no black on white transcript will ever ever display

                  Of course, Teresa, this technology is not going anywhere unless the Judicial Conference does a test study and investigates the acclaimed virtues of this technology much in the same way as it did 40+ years ago when it decided to install real to reel tape recorders in Federal magistrates courts and not permit court reporters in those courtrooms when there were far more court reporters around.

                  Our proposition continues.

                  At some point the lawyers may very well have to order a final certified transcript from us. We are glad to oblige. The additional fee to provide a 30 day transcript would be again another one dollar per page per party or a flat $2.00 per page for a simple 2 party action.

                  The 30 day transcript is for appeal purposes. The additional two dollars per page delivers to the parties a final certified transcript but also includes the fascinating aspect of delivering a synchronized final transcript to the video.

                  But in the meantime using the Hubbard and Associates technology, the parties have the ability to be reviewing the transcript, their working draft, as much as they like.

                  With the federal court reporter, unless they are offering real-time transcription, which may not be something the lawyers are interested in, this is definitely not a perk that the federal court reporter can deliver. And if they were to deliver a real-time transcript, and truly it is amazing technology, I do it myself, the charge in addition to the $6.66 per page is another $3.05 per page.

                  We are now closing in on $10 per page. For a 250 page day in a federal court trial that is $2500 to the first party And $800 to the second party for a total of $3,300.00 gross to the federal court reporter for that day’s work which does not include their salary that is approaching $100,000 per year plus benefits and a future pension plan that may last 30+ years now that everyone seems to be living into their 90s.

                  With the installation of Hubbard and Associates in every 750 courtrooms of the federal court system these it fixed costs of salaries and benefits and future pensions is eliminated. Of course, I could only dream that we could have 750 courtrooms all to ourselves, but no doubt companies like Microsoft, Phillips Corporation of the Netherlands, Apple, and others, they can wield a far better proposition than Hubbard and Associates could ever dream of delivering to the federal court.

                  Therefore, it is a Hubbard and Associates agenda to appeal to the pocketbooks of not only the federal government, but state governments, and it to blackness corporations, who want to retain more money than they did last year, as well as to anybody else who wishes to save money and spend it on something else.

                  The ultimate goal is provide in fact true real-time transcription, as the witness, the judge, the prosecutor, and the lawyers, all take their turns talking in a controlled environment, much as they do now, where literally without any human being involved, a court reporter, everyone is getting a real-time transcript delivered into their personal PC or Apple iPad or iPhone, whichever you please.

                  But, for right now, next day will have to be it.

                  It is my vision that anybody and everybody could order at this point in time next day delivery for a fraction of the cost and when and if necessary they cannot agree on the points on appeal based on the working draft, which technology will only get better and more accurate, they can always have a certified proofread final transcript by the 30th day for their appeal. And the cost would be no more than $4.00 per page total for two parties and if there are more parties the increased page rate is one dollar per page per party.

                  The court reporter of the future, including me, would become non-essential. However we would morph into or migrate to a new career which would be online text editors for daily transcripts or post production delivery (by 30 days) cleaning up the shortcomings of the initial Hubbard and Associates working draft rendition.

                  Instead of only a smaller percentage of what is ever heard in a federal courtroom transcribed, i propose that everything gets to be transcribed and then saved and archived as working draft, but in the interim, the parties and the world have access to a public record, the federal court becomes ever more so transparent And, by the way, the federal courts would actually make money, would actually make revenue after they paid us our simple four dollars per page, every time anybody around the world wanted a copy of either the working draft for the final transcript, all the consumer need do is click on their visa or PayPal account and download the fascinating transcript.

                  By the way, 15 courtrooms in the federal court system are using video in their courtroom which strongly suggests that the Judicial Conference is laying the groundwork for ushering in the eventuality of no court reporters in their courtrooms.

                  I trust you find this information useful especially the rates since you wanted to know what the rates would be. If Hubbard and Associates is ever requested to come to the negotiation table, these rates are not written in concrete, they may in fact increase or they may decrease but one thing is for sure, this technology is coming and it’s literally around the corner.

                • Teresa, I failed to answer an important question. You asked it if it was really necessary to have the video and if it was really necessary to have the audio after a full complete certified final transcript is delivered.

                  Actually, for our beloved American couch potatoes who love soap operas, a video or audio captures and scintillates the imagination. It is my belief that with video some day the federal courts will indeed open up the courts like they have at the state court level where any
                  trial, including criminal trials, will be broadcast live over the Internet providing streaming video of life proceedings.

                  Therefore, in preparing for this eventuality, it is necessary to have video.

                  Video and audio together along with the written transcript, either in working draft mode or as a final transcript, people from around the world will be clamoring to access real-time video streaming broadcasts of trials knowing that later that day there will be a working draft in the wee hours of the morning, or certainly by the next morning, a Hubbard and Associates working draft where transcript is now associated o that same video.

                  Indeed, as the technology is perfected, it will be real-time transcription along with the real-time streaming video which is, as I said, the ultimate goal here.

                  And the federal court administrators office in Washington or at each courthouse itself, this will be a cash cow to be able to get big money coming in from all over the world to access a very cheap
                  record, certainly at the working draft level, and then as second aftermarket proposition we come up for the final certified transcript, where everyone pays a miniscule amount, but to the coffers of the federal courthouse they are makingbig cash deposits into the federal treasury or indeed into their own courthouse coffers to use as they wish for federal courthouse programs that sorely
                  needed funding.

                  • Steve,

                    Several posts ago, you said I’d veered off subject on my original response. I went where I intended when I wrote my comments. I wasn’t trying to skirt around any issue.

                    As with every issue, there are (at least) two sides.

                    I understand there have been budget cuts which have adversely affected many areas — military, health research — in addition to those felt at the federal court level. I understand that in an effort to meet the requirements for accurate court records, and if the number of court reporters decreases, districts across the county are either considering or have already implemented some form of recording technology.

                    In your first post, you introduced yourself as a court reporter, you said you’ve witnessed changes in the field, and you go on to say how this voice rec technology is the wave of the future. I thought it was odd that you, as a court reporter, would be embracing this technology so enthusiastically, knowing that its introduction into courtrooms could threaten your livelihood. Your next post revealed that you (own?) a company that is promoting this technology.

                    You claim that DAR(?) is only a few years away from finding its way into all courtrooms and television arenas, and that in the very near future, people (reporters) won’t be required anymore. (There’s a truly sad thought). Yet in another post you say that the digital recordings will never reach perfection. Where a rough draft might be acceptable in some situations, other settings require a high level of accuracy-such as appellate courts, CNN and probably most television stations. I would think that those levels are best provided by living, breathing, humans.

                    I haven’t gone back to check, but I don’t know that you’ve said a whole lot about the real-time technology that is being taught in today’s CR schools. I don’t know if most current reporters do or do not use this technology; but for those who do, they can provide “real-time,” verbatim text which a judge and attnys can view instantaneously.

                    Yes, there is an increased charge when a quick turnaround for a transcript is requested. You’ve said you’ll be doing the same. You can’t make a living/pay employees at $1 – $2 per page. You gotta make a living at this, and as a business, hopefully profits. Soooo, those costs will show up somewhere.

                    I’m not at all familiar with cost-per-page standards, but I would imagine they are different from state to state? Based in some part by cost of living?? So I don’t know if the per-page cost in Washington is an average or a higher end cost?

                    As far as salaries for court reporters, there are legitimate reasons for these standards. You said yourself, it is very difficult to achieve the level of skill needed for a reporter to be successful. It takes years. It requires a degree. And as one respondent said, the court reporter is the guardian of the record. That is a HUGE responsibility. You know that. That level of responsibility is yet another reason for the rates.

                    As for a fed court reporter, I would guess you’d have to be some kind of good to land such a position. Another factor in determining their salaries.

                    If freelance reporters are what the majority of reporters are, as many of the posts reported, they pay for their equipment and they don’t have paid benefits. Isn’t the bulk of their salary what they are paid for the transcripts? And don’t freelance firms get a pretty good chunk of what is made? Can fed courts not use free-lance reporters to cut back on costs if needed???? I don’t know all the rules.

                    As I said in my opening, there are two sides to every issue. In order for sound business decisions to be made, UNBIASED and ACCURATE FACTS must be presented and considered.

                    As courts make decisions on which direction to head in the future, I hope that they will receive accurate information and consider all sides of this issue.

                    • Teresa,

                      I am going to answer each point in your last post.

                      Teresa says: ” I thought it was odd that you, as a court reporter, would be embracing this technology so enthusiastically, knowing that its introduction into courtrooms could threaten your livelihood. ”

                      Our unique livelihood was threatened long ago as I pointed out, 40+ years ago, when the Judicial Conference decided to NOT permit court reporters to report in US Magistrates courts (not in all cases but most) as well as deny senior judges who retired but came back (still working as hard as ever) holding senior status but cannot take their court reporters with them and had to use DAR – standing for digital audio recording – actually it was reel to reel in those days, but now it is called DAR.

                      Now you know what DAR means and it has nothing to do with voice recognition.

                      This is a creature that has surfaced only in the past several years as a viable contender.

                      Single practitioners, lawyers and doctors and other professionals use Dragon NaturallySpeaking all the time as they have eliminated their secretaries who used to type for them. Lawyers are a tight group. They hear and talk amongst themselves about how remarkable this technology is.

                      You see, I come from family of court reporters as I am a third generation and i have seen it firsthand from pen shorthand writers to steno machine shorthand when tape recorders could only fit into a large room, and now we have HQ, or high quality digital, that you can hide inside your fist that records 10 hours without stopping and even longer ….. and in stereo!

                      We were God’s gift to the courtroom 50+ years ago and we were revered because we artisans truly were the “guardians of the record”. A man’s life hung in the balance in murder cases if we were unfaithful in taking it down completely and secondly swearing to the truth and accuracy of the transcript!

                      THEN TAPE RECORDERS REARED THEIR UGLY HEAD and then penny pinching bureaucrats started dreaming of ways to save money. They got a toe in the door at first. Today they permeate the courts all over the place. I repeat. You go to Europe, Canada, the Far East, Australia, if there are court stenographers or court reporters they are NOT in the courts but are doing other things and their numbers are very few. I come from Canada. If there are 500 steno court reporters in he whole country it is a miracle. That certainly does not provide anywhere near enough warm bodies to cover all the courtrooms in one province. Yes, everywhere, except for here for right now, court reporters are an anomaly, a freak of nature, not the norm.

                      Today a $150 Sony Digital Palm recorder gets it all down especially when everyone is wearing a lapel mic pinned to their collar so every utterance is recorded. They are now making wireless HQ lapel mics so that lawyers who up to now turn their backs to the fixed mics on counsel’s table and at the podium as they walk all over the courtroom floor, can still be heard perfectly and recorded perfectly. This is but one significant fact that will facilitate continuous multiple track, multiple independent speaker voice recognition to go from 94% – 95% accurate to 99% accurate in the not too distant future.

                      The common typist, if she or he is as educated as you are they can now with multiple channels isolate one voice and transcribe the sworn record.

                      The Judicial Conference was well aware of that and that is why virtually 100% of all US Bankruptcy Courts and US Magistrates Courts do NOT use court reporters but just DAR and or video.

                      Those court reporters and their associations who at the time thought they had the clout, they lobbied against ER (electronic recording) many years ago. They lost. And ever since then they have lost every fight there was to fight.

                      We are really just sitting ducks in a very small pond with our wings clipped so we can’t go anywhere.

                      No doubt, there are plenty of typists who are bad at what they do, but that has nothing to do with the recording most times. It is due to carelessness.

                      Teresa says: “Your next post revealed that you (own?) a company that is promoting this technology,”

                      Yes, independent multiple voice speech recognition is here. You even said it is “fascinating to watch”. Of course it is. And it is only going to get better with time.

                      Yes, I am a sitting duck along with the others, but they did not clip my wings. I can go where I please as this technology will eventually find its niche in the courts of law while courts decide as a group or one at a time to let reporters retire and not replace them, or worse, fire them today like they have in many state court systems due to both budgetary considerations and quite simply the lack of court reporters all over God’s green planet.

                      Teresa says: “You claim that DAR(?) is only a few years away from finding its way into all courtrooms and television arenas …”

                      Obviously, now that you know what DAR stands for, I don’t have to explain any further. But think of it. DAR does not need benefits or holidays or a pension, does not get tired …. yes, can break down, therefore need to be replaced, so unfortunately for court reporters this is an obvious fight fot both state and federal court reporters they cannot possibly win in terms of dealing with government number crunchers who are more than ever trying to find new money and save on old money NOT having to be spent while we all suffer in this economic malaise which some economists suggest the malaise we have been in is in fact our new standard of living as we will not return to the former easier economic times.

                      Teresa says: “Yet in another post you say that the digital recordings will never reach perfection. Where a rough draft might …”

                      DAR done properly in terms of recording and archiving audio will indeed be 100% accurate especially when lapel mics are worn by all potential speakers, It is the human being who if they are not qualified to be the transcriber, it will be because of human error that renders a transcript riddled with holes and bad transcription.

                      What I was referring to was voice recognition technology that will never be 100% accurate on its first pass and this is where we court reporters MUST morph into being the text editors to finalize by making corrections while conforming the transcript to the audio and video as the case may be.

                      Teresa says: “I haven’t gone back to check, but I don’t know that you’ve said a whole lot about the real-time technology that is being taught in today’s CR schools”

                      You are right. This is a superlative technology but the BIG problem is that schools are still closing and court reporters who trained for this 25 years ago who are truly the experts providing outstanding real time they are all about to retire thereby leaving a huge colossal vacuum of empty court reporting chairs to fill as real time enabled reporters.

                      Again, this is our biggest challenge, a fight that the court reporter is simply not going to win because of our sheer lack in numbers that is shrinking every year. The math is clear.

                      Teresa says: “I don’t know if most current reporters do or do not use this technology; but for those who do, they can provide “real-time,” verbatim text which a judge and attnys can view instantaneously.”

                      Great. But sad to say, if we could stipulate that there are 100,000 courtrooms in the USA, there are only 8,000 real time court reporters and that would be a generous estimation. It’s like going to a poker game, you sit at the table, and the dealer is playing with a loaded deck.

                      Teresa says: “You can’t make a living /pay employees at $1 – $2 per page. ”

                      Well, Teresa, I never said this is what employees would get. I agree with you. This would be the charge for a computer program to do the grunt work. Putting aside the cost for research and development, if I have one courtroom and approximately 250 to 300 pages worth of transcript is recorded by video or audio, at the flat minimum rate of $2.00 per page (per minute actually) my invoice is $500 to $600 per day ….. minimum. Grow that from one courtroom to four or five courtrooms, you do the math. Zero human is involved. A PC can work 24 hours a day. A human court reporter goes numb after a typical 8 hours on that keyboard.

                      With my methodology, the court clerk uploads video and audio files to my server to be transcribed and presented as “fascinating” working draft files for the lawyers to download to their iPhonex, iPads, and PCs, to use as they please where every word is tied to its recording thereby easily verifying the accuracy of every word in the transcript AND where there are mistranslates, who cares, because the lawyer still has the synchronized audio or video to quote from or much better yet just play those voices that he is interested in playing to the judge and jury.

                      On the other hand, if he orders real time he pays $3.05 (which is the superlative working draft but short of being the final certified 100% accurate) per page AND also most times the same lawyer will order the final certified transcript because he does not want to misquote the testimony and so must pay the additional $6.66 per page for the certified transcript.

                      We are talking almost $10 per page for next day delivery.

                      For a 300 page transcript of a full day testimony that is $3,000!

                      Hubbard & Associates says, your cost with us is only $300 for the whole day as long as two sides order, and even though you do not have a final certified transcript to quote from, you have something better! You get back a searchable electronic transcript that is 100% verifiable because it is tied and synchronized against the audio or video!”

                      Actually lawyers only want very short excerpts of the full day’s transcript to quote or PLAY back to a witness and jury.

                      Now, the appeal is something else therefore they must order the added service as they would with the court reporter to massage their real time rough draft and proof it and make corrections to finally certify it. That charge is an additional $5.00 per page over and above the $3.05 per page for enjoying the benefits of the real time transcription service. Hubbard & Associates fee is only $2.00 per page or per minute. This tells you that by math alone, we are offering far more to the litigants and for a cheaper cost.

                      What choice would YOU make between a court reporter’s certified transcript at $10 per page for daily copy at $3000 or prefer $300 for the whole day as long as the other side ordered as well at $1.00 per page or per minute, and IF the other side did not want a copy of the daily copy, then the most that the only litigant would have to spend would be $600 but not $3,000!

                      Teresa says: “I’m not at all familiar with cost-per-page standards, but I would imagine they are different from state to state? Based in some part by cost of living? So I don’t know if the per-page cost in Washington is an average or a higher”

                      The federal court rates are the same no matter what part of the country they work. That is in concrete. Yes, each state does their own thing. Rates are all over the place from ridiculous to the sublime and to outrageous depending on who is writing and receiving a check.

                      Teresa says: “As far as salaries for court reporters, there are legitimate reasons for these standards. You said yourself, it is very difficult to achieve the level of skill needed for a reporter to be successful. It takes years. It requires a degree. And as one respondent said, the court reporter is the guardian of the record. That is a HUGE responsibility. You know that. That level of responsibility is yet another reason for the rates.”

                      What is in the past is the past. Number crunchers and wise old judges and court administrators could care less what honors we held in the past. We are now in the 21st century and federal budgets and budget directors are being ordered by court order at times to find money and purge programs that are not going anywhere, that most assuredly were once well respected and played an integral part in our American courts, but like the horse drawn carriages, like the pen shorthand writers, like many former vocations of the past, inventions replace old ways of doing things and a live court reporter in the courtroom is one of them for all the reasons I have pointed here in this reply and since the beginning of this blog started by a federal judge who is not alone in his thinking that we court reporters are nearing the end of our usefulness ESPECIALLY when there is ever advancing technology that has a brilliant future by offering very quick turnaround for a FRACTION of the cost.

                      Teresa says: “As for a fed court reporter, I would guess you’d have to be some kind of good to land such a position. Another factor in determining their salaries.”

                      Well, you have to be pretty good no matter where, don’t you think? I mean what you suggests is that state court reporters are not as good as federal court reporters and therefore one has to draw the conclusion that state court transcripts necessarily have to be inferior to what a federal court reporter types up and thereby could that be why 40% of all state courtroom now use DAR?

                      Of course not. It is because the clerks and court administrators cannot find court reporters. Period. So as more courts go to DAR they find ways to improve on what they have and that is why DAR and video is slowly but most assuredly replacing court reporters.

                      Teresa says: “If freelance reporters are what the majority of reporters are, as many of the posts reported, they pay for their equipment and they don’t have paid benefits. Isn’t the bulk of their salary what they are paid for the transcripts? And don’t freelance firms get a pretty good chunk of what is made? Can fed courts not use free-lance reporters to cut back on costs if needed???? I don’t know all the rules.”

                      Well, you know what I think about salaried court reporters with full benefits. This is not a long term solution. You are adroit in suggesting that the courts should at least hire freelance reporters as in this way the taxpayers save big time on benefits and on future whopping pensions and related benefits for possibly 30+ years. Compute 2/3rds of $90,000 plus health benefits times 730 federal court reporters X 30 years as many can retire at 65 and live to 90 and 95. That is very compelling and that alone will have politicians make decisions to clear the path to legislate laws to make it happen, “Get rid of all jobs that can be replaced by automation and outsource all jobs to the freelance market so no more benefits and pensions have to bleed the treasury.”

                      We court reporters will still play a role within the fabric of reporting and transcribing until all the schools have shut down for lack of enticing young people to take up the shorthand machine because as I stated earlier they are the Nintendo and X-box generation. They see little practical use to take up and learn a device where only 5% ever graduate in addition to the fact that more superior technologies will beat them hands down every time as far as speed and, yes, intelligence in the form of artificial intelligence.

                      Going back to rates. If counsel cannot stipulate or agree to a working draft as shown in my demonstrations, and argue their appeals with our working drafts, then yes they come back to me for a final certified transcript. It will cost another flat $2.00 per page or per minute. Not $5.00 per page.

                      Now 95% or so of our working draft is already transcribed. Teresa you are sitting at home doing zilch. You call us and we send you the audio and a Word file of the working draft. You simply have to use a foot pedal, with earphones on, and all you need do is insert speakers with macros, Q and A with macros, and type in the occasional word here or there, do a global search and replace for spelling purposes, and we pay you $1.50 per page (per minute of recorded audio)

                      At first you are going to be slow and quite frustrated, but as you get better at it, you will be editing each page producing about 40 pages per hour or better.

                      Now I suggest to you that there are plenty of retired and very qualified people who would jump at the opportunity to earn $60 per hour and more potentially.

                      Some people would kill for that with flexible hours to call as they please, do as they please, and go as they please anywhere in the world as long as they have access to the Internet and a notebook PC.

                      So yes, I truly believe in this voice recognition technology and that is why people like Judge Kopf and others like him see the writing on the wall and they are not afraid to advance what to many seems to be an absurd proposition.

                      The hard fact is that there are millions more who do not share in the court reporter’s plight to remain on center stage, and in fact, they are simply biding their time to usher in more economically feasible ways to make a coherent and most assuredly reliable record that some day will be produced in real time and as well simultaneously being translated into a foreign language.

                      So yes, even court interpreters cannot hide from what is coming.

                      Sent from my iPhone 4S and this text was made possible by Siri, a free real-time voice recognition software. Five times faster than using your thumbs.

        • Teresa,

          Thank you for your comment. Much of what you write is worthy of consideration. But, I have said all I care to say on this subject.

          All the best.

          RGK

          • Judge, I know I was beating a dead horse. I do appreciate your taking the time to respond. I was much more bothered by the unwritten. I’m guessing you picked up on that. I initially felt better for spewing forth, but today I have felt just a smidge regretful for leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that I’m related to the possessed girl in The Exorcist — spitting nails. That must be what those dents in my computer screen are from. I do apologize for my disrespect. I’ll focus on your kinder and interesting posts–those that explain what your responsibilities entail…if you haven’t blocked me from your other posts. All the best to you.

            Teresa

            • Teresa,

              Please don’t worry. Your comments have been fine, I just really don’t have much else to say. You have shown me no disrespect, only a passionate and articulate point of view. That’s great!

              All the best.

              RGK

  3. Judge I was one of the Eastern District of PA guinea pigs, but it was a while ago. The steps that you describe suggest that this might actually work.

    • Jim,

      I owe you, and herewith give you, my sincere apology. Moreover, especially because your experience is so much different than mine, I am sorry your experience was not a good one. Given the following, however, I must say I am surprised that you did not come away from the pilot project in EDPA with a more positive point of view.

      The last information I had from the Eastern District of PA was that the digital pilot went well. For example, the AP ran a story on on August 28, 2010 (updated 12/7/2011) that started this way: “Official court reporters and their stenographic machines used to be as ubiquitous in a federal courtroom here as a judge, prosecutor or defense attorney. Today, unless you’re in a select few courtrooms, the chances of encountering one are as likely as finding a handwritten letter. In fact, in federal district court in Philadelphia, only four of the 21 active district judges still rely on court reporters to record proceedings and produce transcripts.The rest utilize digital audio recording equipment, as do all federal magistrate judges and many senior district judges.”

      Moreover, as you may recall, U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson from the Eastern District, wrote an opinion lauding digital audio and requiring the parties to use digital audio rather than a transcript for post-trial motion practice in a fairly contentious matter. See here for summary. His opinion started this way, “From smoke signals to e-mail (with telegraph, telephone, and texting along the way), humans have changed their habits to accommodate advances in technology. Digital audio recording of court proceedings is one of many advances in technology, designed to increase public access and decrease the cost of litigation. Digital audio is another step up these stairs.”

      All the best.

      RGK

    • Mark, I am a court reporter, 42 years, seen it all, and we will see about as much change in the next 5 years, as we have seen multiple changes in the last 50 years, all because of our new digital world, cloud computing, ever faster now four core microprocessors, ingenious software, artificial intelligence, et cetera, ever renewing themselves every six months or less. You have attended video depositions. You know how clear the sound track is of all parties wearing a lapel mic. Today there are wireless lapel mics that do the same thing, lawyers moving about the courtroom, separate audio tracks, everybody is covered, streaming their voices to the Cloud for processing.

      Now, pay somebody $75 per AM and PM session to act as monitor to make sure the mics are working and the PC is recording all independent tracks, and monitoring the flow to Cloud. Also monitoring the rough transcript as it is coming back to be delivered to the judge and litigants, and if in the heat of cross-examination everybody is stepping all over everybody else that person interrupts and only an idiot on the bench would tell the monitor to shut up, a it is to everyone’s advantage to get the very best real time or delayed real time transcript. Maybe this type of setting is not to be expected in every state courtroom, but as a former federal court reporter in Washington, DC, I assure you that a federal judge male or female will run that courtroom with an iron fist and make sure that the litigants and the justice system got the very best rough draft transcript which would also be audio and or video sync’d to the real time transcript enabling counsel with 100% verification and therefore with impunity crucify a belligerent witness by challenging them with a search enabled transcript. And the cost for the rough draft to each party perhaps no more than $1.00 per page by Cloud technology that is connected to every courtroom in that courthouse!

  4. Judge,

    I’m not sure I understand. Do you mean an audio recording is made, whereupon software is used to make an automated text transcript?

    Or do you mean no transcript is made and citations are made directly to in the audio stream?

    Thank you.

    JRL

    • J. Law,

      Digital audio in essence does the same thing a court reporter does but it has one additional attribute. The court reporter “hears” a sound and places a symbol on a steno tape or device. The court reporter than transcribes the symbols into words if a transcript is needed. Otherwise, the symbols stay with the court reporter and cannot be accessed.

      Digital audio records the sound and reduces the sound to ones and zeroes thus duplicating the sound on a computer. A transcriber than transcribes the sound captured on the digital audio computer if a transcript is needed. Since the sound remains on the computer media, it can also be listened to as when you upload the sound file to CM/ECF without requiring a transcript.

      The essential difference between using a court reporter and digital audio are (1) with digital audio, you don’t need a person in the courtroom who is actually capturing the sound and converting it to symbols (shorthand, if you will) and (2) digital audio allows the sound recording to be made available to the public via CM/ECF at very low cost.

      We are not yet at the point where we can take sound, capture it, and convert it directly to a transcript containing words. However, our Court is experimenting with Dragon, an off the shelf voice recognition software, for certain very limited purposes.

      I hope this makes sense. If not, please let me know and I will try to do better.

      RGK

      • Judge,

        Got it. Thanks for the explanation. I had a long diatribe written out about wasting a whole day trying to find a particular point in a digital audio recording of a change of plea colloquy with the Magistrate Judge during habeas review. The prisoner had asserted that although his waiver of appeal was knowing and voluntary, he had not had any colloquy regarding, and thus no waiver of his right to collateral attack. (Nevermind that it was in his plea agreement.)

        The moral being, of course, the huge disadvantage of not having a text transcript available to search — but before posting, I had to clarify whether your system still allows for transcripts.

        So your proposal is to replace the court reporter (over time, understandably) with a digital recording, but still permit transcripts to be made from them, albeit only on demand? Presumably paid for by the appealing party, rather than by the court?

        That does seem like a welcome change. While I am quite fond of our court reporter, it seems as though the delay and miscommunications that occur during the creation of an English transcript off the stenographer’s copy are not insubstantial.

        I suppose if the courtroom deputy were to add keywords on a regular basis — e.g. not just, as you say, who was speaking, but topic changes in the examination — then it would help to home in on the right section to listen to. Otherwise I do find skimming a text transcript to be several orders of magnitude faster than jumping around listening for a critical statement.

        As for unintended consequences, there would be one positive one. It would also create a tremendous time-suck of work for all the junior associates. Partners would require their peons to listen through days of audio recordings the moment they’re entered in the record, rather than waiting for a transcript. That would thankfully replace all the billable hours that disappeared into the ether when paper discovery and document review was replaced with automated systems. ;)

        PS: I’ve used Dragon (and the Mac version, Dragon Dictate) in a past life and have been left… rather dissatisfied.[1] Although I hear it’s improved to the point where journalists with carpal tunnel syndrome use it to draft their articles.

        [1] Egg freckles. http://fortunebrainstormtech.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/db930827.gif

        • J. Law,

          Sure, while the audio file suffices for many things, a transcript is frequently necessary. I order them all the time. But, I don’t need a court reporter to transcribe it. In our district, court reporters can get on the list to transcribe if they want to do so, and that’s fine with me. Otherwise, I am happy to use one of the excellent transcribers who are not court reporters.

          All the best.

          RGK

          • Dear Judge, just visit YouTube and in the Search Box type in Hubbard and Associates. Fully automated independent speech recognition is here and well and you will be the first to agree it will only get better. There are a few examples of Iowa Article III federal courtrooms used as examples. Imagine the day when the pauper is on equal footing with the well-healed litigant, accessing search-enabled transcript on demand, for a fraction of the cost to produce transcript today, referring to rough draft transcript verifiable by synchronized video such as now being used in 15 federal Article III courtrooms around the country. Federal Public Defenders literally having access to a type written record synch’d to the court’s built-in video system that is later posted on the AO website for anyone to access to search their record, every American’s record, possibly paying $2.50 per AM and PM session, and for celebrated cases, this could well translate into new found badly needed money for the courts to help continue to improve the system of American Jurisprudence.

              • Judge, comments have been made here on Dragon. Prior experience using the early versions, 7 and more years ago, processed through microprocessor chips that were much slower, for sure, bad taste was left in one’s mouth. Today, version 12 is out and right out of the box with 30 initial training, using PCs with dual core processing, a stark contrast.

                The examples shown on YouTube by Hubbard & Associates in fact does not use Dragon. But another system accessible only through the Internet, and no it is not Google’s VR system.

                Those examples we used taken from the Iowa federal courtrooms did nothing more than capture the video off the AO’s website, send the video to the Cloud, we will call it, and automatically, with zero human intervention, a transcript is made. Then we process the transcript by then showing the video with the transcript.

                We believe in any of the examples you watch any assistant public defender would love to have during any federal trial as would the prosecutor. The cost? First, we need to get a pilot project started and a judge who believes in this technology and an excited budget director at the local courthouse who can verily believe that hundreds of thousands of dollars per courtroom per year would be saved by NOT ordering the final certified transcript all the time only because the parties were able to work with a transcript that was as good or better than what you have hopefully reviewed, being 100% verifiable against the very video in that experimental courtroom where videos are made of every civil trial – for now – where the parties agree to their case being video recorded – getting same day or next day video transcripts, where with impunity they can call up a specific passage by searching for a word or phrase, or searching by the video player’s timeline and presto, successfully cross-examine that witness.

                Perhaps after the trial the parties can review the video transcript and narrow the issues on appeal and agree to just partial excerpts to be certified instead of having to order page 1 through page 3,000 of a three week trial transcript.

                Ordering certified transcript would cost additional, but it is a minuscule fraction, almost laughable, as compared to the cost of having a $90,000 per year salaried court reporter in the courtroom, an additional $20,000 per years in benefits, and of course $60,000 per year for every year after that reporter retires with full pensions plus continued benefits.

                So yes, the AO, and the Judicial Conference have a real juggernaut on their hands. How long do they continue to support a system of court reporting whose days are very much finite and the federal reporter’s unchallenged license to print money keeps eroding and depleting the coffers when these current funds and future pension funds should be immediately redirected to SAVIng the public defender system, and no doubt other struggling federal programs within the federal court system before it tanks and totally loses its status as the best legal system in the world.

            • Mr. Hubbard,
              I am very happy your pauper litigant is healed and ready to meet a new day.
              As an example of your company’s ability to transcribe, maybe?

              • Hi, Renda.

                This is just the beginning. 20 years ago, this technology did not exist. Then it did. It was a joke. Then it got better.

                Zero human being involved.

                In five years or less all major TV networks will be using real time fully automated independent speech recognition to provide live closed captioning for the hearing impaired not just in English but also in Spanish.

                Companies like Nuance, the developer of Dragon, and the many multinational corporations like Apple with its Siri, the Netherlands corporation like Phillips, Microsoft, the list is endless, all are positioning themselves to provide incredible real time transcription for any kind of live proceedings, meetings, courtrooms, TV broadcasting, et cetera, and every one of these companies could care less about court reporters regardless of the tool they use.

                It’s called progress for the whole society of mankind, cheaper services on demand, no matter where you are.

                Some day I envision people coming to a meeting, place their iPhone 7 on the table. Give those who are at the table a lapel microphone, so voices are clearly heard, then patched into your iPhone 7, and as long as they conduct themselves with general courtesy, the Apple Cloud will provide instant real time transcription streamed into everyone’s mobile device with ability to review the proceedings while still recording!

                Yes, there will be mistakes, and if we are talking sworn testimony, somebody will be asked to proof the transcript against the sync’d audio and make necessary edits, and the cost will be a pitiful fraction of what lawyers and their clients are now paying.

                So, yes, for now court reporters need to milk the cow as much as they can, but very soon that old cow’s milk will dry up.

                Good luck to you.

    • J. Law,

      One other thing, a lawyer or judge can use the digital audio once it is uploaded to cite to the record (that is, the sound file) by referring to the hour and minutes counter that displays when the audio file is played. I often do that in opinions in lieu of a transcript. For now, the Courts of Appeal still require transcripts.

      RGK

  5. In early 90’s Orange County California built a new courthouse for Juvenile Family and Probate. The family courts were set up with video/audio recording. We could Order a copy of the tape and have it same day.
    I thought it worked extremely well, so well that after viewing myself “in action”, I realized how awful I appeared and changed my approach in my courtroom appearances to be more like my mother would approve.
    The tapes were readily acessable to transcription in case of appeal. I always thought the appellate court would appreciate “seeing” the trial rather than just “reading” it.
    The court reporters are very powerful in Sacramento and got the legislature to ban such recordings statewide.
    I wish you well in this endeavor.
    T. Roberts

    • Terry,

      Thanks for your comment. Everyone who is not brain dead knows that video or audio recordings of court proceedings will be implemented, and official court reporters will no longer be needed. In the federal courts, the question is not if, but when.

      As for the court reporter lobby, I get you. And how! When I was Chief Judge, we were implementing CM/ECF (a computer based filing and management system that places the court records on the Internet) when I innocently ran into a buzz saw about uploading transcripts. The reporters were all in a tizzy about losing fees. I lost a good friend (my reporter) over this issue. The local contract reporters made it clear that they would not work for me.

      In short, I am probably the most hated federal judge in the nation when it comes official court reporters. To be frank, I simply don’t care. I want what is best for the public, lawyers and litigants. What is best for the public, lawyers and litigants does not include expensive court reporters when digital audio recording is available at a small fraction of the cost and without any sacrifice in quality.

      All the best.

      RGK

  6. Hi, Judge Kopf.

    I am a court reporter, and while I agree with some of the things you say, I very much disagree with others. I’ve been at it for 40 years. I, too, have kept up with technology and now provide the absolute best product to the judges I work for and the attorneys who appear in court. It’s called realtime, where I write what is being said and the English comes up on computer screens. It’s done for the judges for free. There is a cost to the attorneys. They love it.

    •”By uploading the digital audio recording of a trial or hearing every day to CM/ECF, the federal courts become more transparent to the public by an order of magnitude.”

    I think we sort of fool ourselves into thinking that there are a whole bunch of people out there who are interested in hearing the cases heard in the federal courts. We’re doing a pilot video project where I work and hardly anyone is looking at the videos. Most do so just because they’re interested in seeing how it looks, not because of any case information.

    “In fact, I had far more problems with court reporters getting sick or getting tired or their steno machines failing than I have had problems with digital audio.”

    Yes, it’s true, as people, court reporters sometimes get sick and sometimes get tired. I’m pretty sure as human beings we all do. Where I work, we’ve never had a problem covering all of our courts, but we don’t work in a system that has one judge, one reporter. We pool our reporters and even out the workload that way. It’s a much better system. As far as machines failing, well, let’s just say I think you might be exaggerating on that a little. Court reporters for the most part have been ahead of the curve on keeping up with technology. We brought the attorneys along kicking and screaming to get them up to speed in using electronic versions of transcripts and realtime, etc. We pay for all our own equipment, computer software and hardware, supplies, service contracts, etc. The court doesn’t pay a dime.

    “•Digital audio recording can do “play backs” and judges can annotate and make notes on their computer screen as the digital recording is made.”

    Are there devices, computers, in your courtrooms to allow attorneys to do the same? Or if not, are the attorneys permitted to tie into the system in some fashion so they can have the recordings coming to them in realtime on their own computers to annotate and make notes? Of course, I’m sure you know of the realtime most federal reporters are using these days that permit the attorneys and the judge to have a live feed of the transcript as the testimony is going forward throughout the day. There are numerous programs that permit the attorneys and the judge to issue code the testimony, mark it, store it, etc. And it’s all done wirelessly. There’s no need to take the time to play anything back as the testimony is right there on the screen in front of you as it is being said. It is by far the best available product.

    •”Lawyers experienced with digital audio recording love it because they can log into CM/ECF anytime, night or day, and review the record when writing a brief or for any other reason. A lawyer can do so without having to pay a reporter for a transcript. Citations to digital audio are easy. One simply refers to the time-counter used to play the audio.”

    It’s only my experience, but I have not met a lawyer yet who has said they would rather review a digital audio recording over having a transcript. I can only imagine how much time and money is wasted by having a highly educated attorney, or a paralegal even, to sit down and try to review a digital audio recording, even one that has been annotated. The almighty billable hour charge is bound to go sky high if an attorney is reviewing a recording and certainly would probably have much better things to do. I would not want to write a brief where I had to listen to the audio, write or type it down, if I didn’t understand something or something went by too quick, reverse it and listen to it again, and then make reference to the counter numbers. With an electronic transcript, all you have to do is cut and paste, as I’ve done here with some of your earlier remarks. It’s simple and it’s right here on my computer or iPad which I can carry with me wherever I go. I don’t need to be hooked up to the court’s system in any way.

    And I can tell you from experience with using the best digital audio system available, it takes about five times more time to transcribe than a reporter would need to transcribe the same amount of material.

    Sincerely,

    Bruce A. Matthews, RDR, CRR
    Chief Court Reporter
    Northern District of Ohio

    • Thank you for writing Bruce. Here is a brief rejoinder:

      * I have “used real” time. I trust you would agree that it is not entirely accurate. Indeed, I assume that when you prepare a transcript for appeal, you proof your “real time” product and make changes to insure that it is suitable for appeal.

      * Perhaps you would share with us your charge to counsel for “real time.” Then, compare that cost per day to the cost per day a lawyer would pay for an audio file from the Clerk’s office.

      * The only clear value to the court for “real time” relates to judges who are hearing or sight impaired. However, we should not manage by exception.

      * For judges who are not impaired, “real time” comes no where close to making the judge’s job so much easier that the cost of your salary is outweighed by the benefit of seeing a partially accurate string of words on the computer screen in “real time.”

      * I strongly disagree with you that we “fool ourselves” about the importance of making court proceedings transparent. Indeed, the world wide interest in making court proceedings transparent through digital means caused one Canadian law journal to contact me for my thoughts on the subject. Perhaps you might enjoy my article entitled, The Courts, the Internet, E-Filing and Democracy, 56 UNBLJ 40 (2007).

      * I was amused about your “pooling” statement. There is “pooling” according to the plan for court reporters that each court must adopt, but I have seldom seen “pooling” in truth. Maybe you folks are the exception. In any event, I don’t begrudge court reporters getting sick, I simply pointed out that court reporters are less reliable than digital audio equipment for a whole host of reasons that are not debatable.

      * Please don’t make the tired straw person argument about transcripts. Sure, transcripts are necessary sometimes, but not all the time. When you don’t need a transcript, the digital audio file is a wonderful substitute for nothing. Moreover, I can get a transcript from you or I can get a transcript from a transcriber using a digital audio file. In that vein, you claim that it takes longer to transcribe from a digital audio file. If you count your time in court, plus the time to produce the transcript in your office, I bet it evens out. Most importantly, who cares whether it takes longer. The cost of your salary to the court far outweighs the cost of a transcriber to the court.

      Look, Bruce, I don’t dislike court reporters. But any claim that you folks are worth to the courts what you cost is now laughable given the advances in digital audio technology. We are going to have to make hard choices. I would rather have federal public defenders and digital audio than the alternative of paying for a service like yours that federal courts don’t need and can’t afford. Truly, I am sorry.

      RGK

      • Judge, I get audio files from clients to transcribe. So at least someone still needs a printed transcript. Much of your argument against the continued use of court reporters seems to ignore the importance of a printed transcript. Quite frankly, not being in your setting, maybe transcripts are no longer of much use. If a transcript is of not much use, then the need for a court reporter isn’t necessary, I agree. However, if you need a transcript, the best, not the only, but the best system is with a court reporter, an educated, trained, and most likely certified court reporter. If you’re looking for accuracy, versus adequacy, then, again, you need a court reporter.

        • Lou,

          I want to be clear, and I evidently had not been clear. Transcripts are necessary. You can get a perfectly accurate transcript using a transcriptionist rather than a court reporter performing the job of a transcriptionist.

          All the best.

          RGK

      • Once more, Judge. My recommendation is fire all the on staff federal reporters, but first, offer each one of them first right of refusal, ask them to come back as freelance reporters. Zero benefits. Zero future pensions to many who may otherwise bleed the Treasury as many may live into their 80’s and 90’s. This too is new found money to redirect to keeping federal public defenders on board instead of cutting them loose. Make that the first transition. But also install superlative DAR in the federal courts, and as Mr. Matthew suggests, buy a few used PCs off Amazon.com with appropriate recording software, so yes, they like you make annotations during the proceedings, effortless point and click, to replay later.

        Certainly in civil cases, the AO should blow the doors wide open and let the civil litigants bring in their own freelance court reporters, the very same team that did most of the depositions and therefore truly familiar with every term in the case, let them pay the appearance fee, let them pay for their transcripts, but always filing a free copy or free original with the court clerk (albeit a PDF version).

        Also, everyone can agree that the judge’s DAR recording will be the OFFICIAL record. So if there is ever any claim the court reporter ever made a mistake, we can always go back to compare to the court’s original sound recording and do so on demand without involving the precious time of the court and then agree to errata, if necessary. Calling on the court reporter to do that is problematic. Some are on vacation. Quit. Can’t be found.

        Then, finally, when there simply are no longer anymore stenos around, even for civil litigants, by that time perhaps what you might have seen demonstrated on YouTube searching for Hubbard & Associates exemplars, this technology will be so literally out of this world and pervasive in a very good sense, that humanity as a whole will benefit.

        And not just a handful of a select group of people called court reporters who for the most part still think they are God’s gift to the courtroom.

  7. Bravo Judge!

    I can say that, as an attorney who has needed access to records of prior litigation (a plaintiff’s prior statements in related litigation, for example), access to audio records dramatically eased the process. I can listen to the recordings of testimony quickly and easily, then requests a transcript of only the relevant testimony, thereby saving the cost of ordering transcripts that ultimately prove irrelevant to my issue, and the (occasionally lengthy) delay caused by waiting for the transcript. More efficient, less costly, and equally accurate. Sounds like a winner.

    This particular change will be difficult, because court reporters (in my experience) are almost uniformly great people who represent the judicial process and their profession well. But, like manufacturers of buggy whips, they must recognize the changing landscape. They are not the only ones who find some of their livelihood infringed upon by technological advances: years ago, first year associate attorneys (who are not much good at lawyering yet) found steady work and lengthy hours conducting legal research by working through the many volumes in the firm’s law library. Now that Lexis and Westlaw have made legal research much more efficient, clients won’t pay for weeks of legal research anymore — they expect it done in minutes. Law firms are left to figure out how to find something valuable (and therefore billable) for first year attorneys to do. While I have far more sympathy for court reporters than I do for the business model of a law firm, they each struggle to adjust to new technology.

    *Upon re-reading the above, I may have inadvertently implied that court reporters are about as useless as a first year lawyer. Perish the thought.

  8. But, but–court reporting is one of the few actual shovel-ready jobs in the Federal kit….

    It does seem to me that there is one aspect where digital recordings would be superior to court reported transcripts. It just so happens that folks sometimes talk over one another in those odd moments when the staid decorum of a proceeding succumbs to the heat of the moment. The digital recording captures all of that, and if the players could separate out the conflicting voices and words in person, they should be able to do that from the recording as well.

    How would a court reporter reliably represent that on a printed transcript? Especially where it might matter who was talking over whom?

    Eric Hines

    • Eric,

      In fairness to the reporters, they are quite good at getting the speakers right. Depending upon the judge, some court reporters even stop the proceedings to insure that “double speak” does not occur. But, as you indicate, with sophisticated digital audio equipment, it is sometimes possible to sort out the problem when a reporter might fail to do so. In truth, however, there is probably no significant difference on the “double speak” issue.

      All the best.

      RGK

    • E. Hine, how would any transcriptionist represent that on a printed transcript? The court reporter can interrupt the proceeding and caution the parties about stepping on each other’s speech. A transcriptionist after the fact has no such option.

      • [H]ow would any transcriptionist represent that on a printed transcript? … A transcriptionist after the fact has no such option.

        Which was my point–a (digital) recording has no such problem from the jump. But as Judge Kopf has already pointed out, I’m making a mountain in a teapot….

        Eric Hines

        • Eric,

          If two or more are talking at the same time, the only way to portray that in a transcript is to transcribe it as it actually took place, one or two words from one speaker, then one or two from another, and back and forth because that’s what actually happened.
          A court reporter, on the other hand, can interrupt the speakers and tell them to speak one at a time, something which a machine cannot do, obviously. It makes it better for the reporter, the parties, and certainly the jury.

          Bruce A. Matthews

  9. If we did away with realtime judges would have to start paying attention, job satisfaction would drop, judges would become depressed, go to self help groups, feel better, go to Vegas, gamble away all our recent pay raises, start taking bribes, get impeached, and all become used car salespeople, new car sales would drop, the stock market would decline, and the country would be in a real mess, caused by you. Ready for that?

  10. I think that voice recognition, like Dragon, has a really slick use even when it doesn’t get all the words right.

    It turns out that it is technically a lot easier to get 95-97% correct transcription than the 99.9%+ accuracy you would need to generate one page of correct text, (assuming 500 words per page.)

    But that 97% accurate transcript is a gold mine for searching. If you want to listen to where the witness talked about “crack”, you got a 97% chance that word got transcribed correctly. Since the witness probably said “crack” several times, your chances get even better. You type in “crack” and the computer takes you right to where you want to be. Or you can browse through the, sometimes commical but definitely followable, automatic transcript (that only cost you a computer crunching in a dark room somewhere) to find the audio you want to listen to.

  11. Audio recording solves another problem. Unfortunately, there are judges who cover up some of their own behavior by prevailing on court reporters to fix-up the transcript — omitting threats against lawyers, inserting justifications for rulings where none were given simultaneously, etc. audio recording makes this a lot harder.

  12. First post here, after enjoying the blawg greatly for several weeks.

    Couple of thoughts. First it seems to me a digital audio beats a reporter’s transcript when it comes to accurately conveying the true and complete meaning of the testimony, because it captures, as a transcript cannot, things like inflection, pregnant pauses, and the like. I think playing a relevant clip from a deposition to a jury will give them a better grasp of the information actually conveyed by the witness, and more information on which to base a judgment about witness credibility, than will a written transcript.

    Second, as a thought experiment, consider what we would do if we were designing a dispute resolution system from scratch. We would discern the need to preserve testimony. Given the technology available today, would we decide we needed someone present to record in code and then transcribe the testimony on paper, or would we choose to digitally record proceedings? It seems to me that court reporter services, as invaluable as they have been for a very long time, continue as the norm at this point due mainly due to inertia.

    • Richard,

      Thanks for your views. Your thought experiment is a wonderful way of putting the world of court reporting in the modern context.

      All the best.

      RGK

      • We have all forgotten that we now have multiple independent digital track recording. Unless the lawyer or the witness is clearly cutting each other off in a demonstration of who is trying to control, here you should show in the transcript two words each back and forth. Otherwise, for the occasional harmless stepping on each other’s speech, be kind to the record and just transcribe the full question and answer.

        By the way, on May 17, 2012, I took part as a realtime court reporter working with renowned William & Mary College of Law professor William Lederer on a CLCT project in courtroom 5J of the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia. I was as home listening to the event sending back real time transcript to a packed audience of federal and state court judges and administration personnel from all over the country.

        We were demonstrating that streaming audio over the Internet can be slowed down at my receiving end while the proceeding are ongoing, so that above average fast talking speakers are now talking at 50% less fat as I am hearing them with this amazing software, and I am using my steno machine to transcript in “delayed real time” the proceedings!

        Take this a step further. Let’s train our boys and girls coming home from foreign wars who are paraplegics, truly homebound, teach them voice recognition, and now they too can manipulate the speed of the real time streaming audio to make incredible rough draft same day transcription!

        This is where technology certainly helps out mankind, takes bewildered vets off the public dole, off the streets begging for handouts, making them into tax paying citizens with a lot to offer their society in which we all live in and share as a community of true brotherhood.

    • Richard, the notion that court reporters record in code and transcribe on paper is a bit simplistic. A court reporter’s “code” is instantly translated by computer into English as it is written. There is no transcribing to be done. It seems this particular blog wants desperately to convince readers that modern court reporting is archaic and should go the way of the buggy whip, to coin someone else’s phraseology here. However, the reality is far different. If you want cutting-edge digital technology, it is found in modern court reporting.

      A highly-skilled court reporter writes on his or her steno machine in stenography (code), and the computer translates that instantly into English. That English is then transmitted, again instantly, to the laptops or iPads of the judge, law clerks, deputy clerks, and judicial assistant, and any other court personnel a judge or district allows. If an attorney wishes, he or she may obtain the feed. Yes, they do have to pay for the realtime feed, but there is no additional cost to the judiciary and/or taxpayers.

      This instant transcript aids the judge and parties during the proceedings since they are able to go back to previous testimony (during live proceedings) to rule on motions, to research, etc. Oh, and it can be done without interrupting the proceedings — unless the user is impaired and not able to listen to ongoing testimony and read at the same time, something just about everyone is able to do. However, the same cannot be said of trying to playback audio during the proceedings.

      By the way, did I mention that the feed is available in chambers and other offices in the courthouse over the network so a law clerk can be sitting in his or her office researching for the judge WHILE the proceedings are happening or a judicial assistant can view the live realtime and get a sense of when a judge is going to break to handle an emergency matter? (I could cite several more examples.)

      However, the benefit of an instant transcript during proceedings is only one small benefit. The real benefit is that those same parties — the judge, law clerks, deputy clerks, judicial assistants, probation officers, etc. — have access to those files AFTER the proceedings. Free, of course. (Again, no cost to the judiciary.) Those files are uploaded to the court server and are available for review forever. No transcription necessary. It’s done already.

      So, for example, when a judgment is prepared, everyone can go back to the record, if they need to, to see exactly what the judge said. In fact, they can simply cut and paste right out of the realtime transcript and insert in their judgment document the pertinent portion. During the evening, the judge is able to review pending motions heard during trial. And I don’t care what anyone says, we all know that reading is by far more efficient than trying to re-listen to testimony. (Again, I could cite several more examples.)

      Oh, and speaking of this cutting-edge concept of digital audio, court reporters also digitally record the proceedings, which are synced to the spoken word right in the transcript which was instantly translated. If it is so important for judges to hear the nuance of the spoken word, simply ask your court reporter to give you a synced version of the transcript and audio. There is no need for a deputy clerk to be using her time trying to mark relevant portions to be played back. It’s ALL marked by word instantly!!!

      I could go on with other examples, but modern court reporting IS cutting-edge technology. Tape recording has been around for, what, 60 or 70 years or more. There is nothing cutting-edge about it. The fact that it is now recorded digitally instead of on a tape does not make it something new.

      So, no, court reporting isn’t hanging around due to inertia. It’s being retained by judges and clerks who recognize the true value of a highly-skilled, professional court reporter.

      • I experienced real-time transcription once a couple of years ago, and it was eye-opening. Just as JBA says, it was quite helpful and immediate.

        At least in that case, it was also quite expensive for the litigants (and, I assume, for the court). My side was able to justify the cost based upon the potential exposure and the anticipated need for trial excerpts in motions, appeals, and to provide trial updates to the corporate clients, but the overwhelming majority of cases couldn’t withstand the added cost. Again, I’m only assuming that the court was burdened with the costs of both the personnel and the equipment (both hardware and software).

        Some costs may have come down in the last few years (I would be surprised if they hadn’t), but the personnel costs have remained roughly constant. In any event, I think even the most ardent supporter of the technology JBA described would admit that it is not necessary or helpful in every case. Moreover, in most courts the choice is between the “traditional” reporter with a steno machine or an audio recording system — other alternatives cost as much or more than the status quo. That a professional court reporter could offer even more services — at a greater cost — is no argument when the whole point is saving money.

        JBA, I can appreciate the advantages you described, and I readily acknowledge that there may be more that you didn’t list. But I took the Judge’s argument to be that the incredibly limited budget of the federal judiciary demands that we look for savings where we can find it. And digital recording in place of a court reporter reduces a cost for the judiciary while imposing, at most, a minor burden upon the functionality of the court. Reasonable people can disagree about the extent of the burden caused by doing without a reporter, but the savings would be significant, and would potentially allow better funding of judicial priorities.

        • strunkl, I will just say at least as far as my original response that there is no cost to the federal courts for realtime or any value-added services provided to the court by court reporters beyond their salary.

          Also, you are mistaken about courts being “burdened with the costs of both personnel and equipment (both hardware and software.)” Court reporters supply all their own equipment and software. There is no cost to the federal courts. They buy their own paper, transcript covers, steno machines, software, routers, printers, pens, paper clips, you name it. Court reporters pay for their own internet service and phone service. The only thing the courts provide is office space, a desk, and chair. That’s it.

          Further, court reporters do not get paid for transcripts or realtime provided to the court or any court personnel. That is all part of the salary. And while you might suggest it is a minor burden to replace court reporters, many, many judges and attorneys think otherwise.

          Again, the only savings to the judiciary by replacing court reporters would be salary and benefits, which I realize you pointed out. I’m not suggesting that isn’t a savings. It certainly is. It would also be a substantial savings to eliminate law clerks and personal judicial assistants. I mean, if cost savings is the only factor, then by all means, gut the judiciary. Unfortunately, the American citizen is the one who will suffer by such gutting.

          There are many, many places the federal courts could save money before eliminating personnel. I always find it odd that some people are so quick to eliminate other employees’ salaries and jobs while maintaining how essential their own is.

          • strunkl, just a quick follow-up. I was not referring to you when I mentioned that it’s odd some people are quick to eliminate other employees’ salaries.

          • JBA, thanks for the added info. I didn’t know that reporters paid for their own technology (presumably justifying the cost by the fees they can pass along to litigants, which is fine by me). That seems sensible, and I’m happy to learn about that arrangement.

            I understand that you think the service of a professional court reporter is quite useful, and its absence a significant loss to the court. Obviously I don’t share your belief regarding the magnitude of the loss, but I don’t doubt your sincerity, or that others share your views. It’s possible that our positions are informed by our respective roles at the court. Since I’m not a judge or a reporter, I’ll grant you that I have a limited window on the reporter’s contribution to an effective judiciary (though presumably the Judge’s opinion on this score is useful). Nevertheless, I’m doing my best to understand and identify with your perspective.

            But the Congress and the President, not the Article III judges, declared that “cost savings is the only factor” when they passed the Sequester. Now judges are left to determine how to manage a system that was already stretched thin in places before the cuts. They are trying to figure out how to keep the Sequester from gutting the judiciary.

            You say that clerks or assistants could be cut too. But there isn’t any technology that I know of that can perform the case analysis and preliminary drafting that a clerk does (and when it’s invented, clerks will be out on their ears). Perhaps more importantly, court reporters make more in base salary than temporary clerks (I don’t know salary info for the comparatively few career clerks), so cutting reporters saves more money.

            You also say that there are other, better, places to cut from the judiciary. I’m happy to listen, but I’ll be surprised if you can find an alternative that offers a similar magnitude of savings yet does not infringe upon constitutional mandates. (Can’t cut the judge’s pay, can’t cut the public defender staff, etc.)

            Thanks for the insights regarding the reporter’s services and business model, and for the invigorating discussion. Regarding your last post, I took no offense at any aspect of your remarks, but appreciate your thoughtfulness.

          • JBA, many states have decided to go to DAR, two main reasons. The USA is not immune to the disappearing, vanishing steno court reporter. This nation is the last bastion of the conventional steno reporter, but our lifetime is finite. Schools have been closing in every state. Some states don’t have a court reporting school. It is not obvious to you and I don’t blame you. I started in 1969 learning the vocation. Everyone who is my contemporary, expect a huge sucking sound of a vacuum the result which will be thousands of unmanned court reporting chairs in every aspect of the court reporting industry.

            Even if all federal judges, court administrators, local, regional, state and national bars were to all in unison demand that the steno court reporter remain in their chairs in lieu of non-steno considerations, their wish and command could not possibly be honored. Nobody is taking up the machine shorthand, at least in significant numbers, and these that do, always, but ALWAYS, only 5% ever pass the grueling NCRA (National Court Reporters Association) testing procedures that have always been in place 85% of all courts follow and observe when an application is considered for employment.

            So when you have very few entrants on a national scale even considering to learn the steno, and expect the proven historical national disgrace that only 5% of students ever make it, it is no small wonder why heads up court administrators and chief judges must project 7 to 10 years in the future what is most likely going to be the de facto system to preserve the record.

            It is not going to steno reporters. This is purely a pragmatic and logical conclusion

            Another verbatim solution is funding the training to become aStenomask or voice writer, the act of repeating verbatim what is heard using Dragon or some variant program using a technique where hundreds of voice macros are used, voice shorthand, to give real time transcription. Here too not enough students entering this program. Imagine training a fully bilingual candidate able to produce both English and Spanish in real time.

            You will never ever find a certified bilingual steno reporter. Just does not exist.

            The writing is on the wall. It is not shorthand. For the long term it must be DAR with easily searchable digital audio, easily accessible not only by the litigants but by anyone on the face of the planet to download and archive.

            The federal courts, even if they do nothing at this time, notwithstanding being pressured by the sequester, more than 50% of all federal reporters will be retiring within 10 years, and there will likely not be anywhere enough steno or voice writers around to be handed the baton to continue the Olympic decathlon race.

      • JBA: I certainly acknowledge the “simplistic” description. And you clearly have much more knowledge of the intricacies of court reporting than I do. I defer to your greater knowledge of the details, but I continue to wonder whether the cost is worth the benefit in most cases. Certainly the daunting costs of pursuing depositions is almost entirely attributable to recording and transcription, where in many if not most cases a digital recording would fill the bill at a significantly reduced cost. I do think it should at least be an option, at the very least an opt-in for parties willing to forgo the marginal benefits a court reporter provides (and they are significant benefits, just not always cost-effective or necessary).

      • JBA,

        Please tell us what you do for a living and where you are employed?

        Please tell me the cost per party per day for “real time.”

        Please tell me if you are claiming that “real time” transcripts are “appeal ready.”

        Please tell me you knew that digital audio is available in chambers in “real time” but failed to disclose that fact in your comment.

        Please tell me whether court reporters would be willing to make their “real time” transcripts available over CM/ECF to the public each day for less than $10.00.

        If you claim that “real time” court reporters “digitally record the proceedings, which are synced to the spoken word right in the transcript which was instantly translated” why are steno strokes necessary?

        Are you really claiming that a “real time” feed is available to the public via CM/ECF without charge to the public? If you make that claim, back it up by specifying what specific district courts are doing that now.

        Please provide me with an unbiased study of the federal courts that show the reader that digital audio fails to save tens of thousands of dollars per year per replaced court reporter.

        Please tell me if you are claiming that transcriptions prepared by transcriptionists are less accurate than transcripts prepared by court reporters. If you make that claim, please identify an unbiased study in the federal courts that support that claim. If you don’t make the claim or cannot support it, will you admit that both are about as accurate as the other?

        Finally, please state the average annual salary of a federal court reporter and then the average annual gross amount shown on schedule C (or equivalent) for “real time,” transcript and copy income. I bet that the average total income of federal court reporters approaches and perhaps exceeds the average salary paid Assistant Federal Public Defenders. Am I wrong?

        All the best.

        RGK

  13. RGK,

    “Please tell us what you do for a living and where you are employed?” I am a court reporter.

    “Please tell me the cost per party per day for “real time.” I thought the debate here was saving money for the judiciary. It costs the judiciary absolutely nothing to receive “real time” for the judge, law clerks, case managers, secretaries, probation officers, or any other court staff. There is no cost to the judiciary at all.

    “Please tell me if you are claiming that “real time” transcripts are “appeal ready.” No, they are not. But I fail to see how that adds to the discussion. You yourself said it doesn’t matter how long it takes to produce a transcript. As you know, quite often those transcripts are prepared outside work hours, and court reporters obviously do not get paid for those hours, so again no cost to the judiciary. We also do not refrain from writing in court to do said transcripts. Digital audio is not “appeal ready” either, and I just don’t see you convincing appellate judges to listen to hours of testimony on appeal, but that’s a different issue. As for cost of the transcript, whether prepared by a court reporter or prepared by a typist from a recording, there is a cost to the transcript.

    “Please tell me you knew that digital audio is available in chambers in “real time” but failed to disclose that fact in your comment.” I don’t know if I knew that or not. But again, who wants to re-listen to hours of testimony back in chambers trying to research an issue for the judge? Reading and/or skimming transcripts is five times as efficient. And your CRD spot marking words is a very poor substitute for translated testimony, even if some of it is not translated perfectly. You do realize that certified realtime writers are writing at about 99.5% accuracy as a rule, don’t you? If you’ve received less in your experience (which sounds like was years ago that you used realtime), you haven’t experienced the norm.

    “Please tell me whether court reporters would be willing to make their “real time” transcripts available over CM/ECF to the public each day for less than $10.00.” I will not speak for other reporters, but again we seem to be going at this argument from two sides. I thought you were looking to save the judiciary budget. Again, there is no cost to the judiciary for realtime.

    “If you claim that “real time” court reporters “digitally record the proceedings, which are synced to the spoken word right in the transcript which was instantly translated” why are steno strokes necessary?” I’m just not sure you understand exactly what it is that court reporters do. I don’t “claim” that reporters digitally record, I KNOW they do. Our software (the one we pay nearly $5,000 for and pay $800 a year to support) syncs the audio to the spoken word. It’s called audio sync, and I’ve been using that for around 15 years now. It’s nothing new. The steno stroke is at the heart of it all. It’s what distinguishes us from every other method. Our steno strokes get translated by our software instantly into English. You and other parties never see the steno, you only see English. Instantly. Why is the steno stroke necessary? Because there is no other viable way to get instant English. We are at the dawn of voice recognition technology. It may all change in the future. But that future is not now. We court reporters are the only voice recognition technology at this point that is not speaker-dependent.

    “Are you really claiming that a “real time” feed is available to the public via CM/ECF without charge to the public? If you make that claim, back it up by specifying what specific district courts are doing that now.” I don’t believe I ever said that.

    “Please provide me with an unbiased study of the federal courts that show the reader that digital audio fails to save tens of thousands of dollars per year per replaced court reporter.” This blog is not the forum at all for such an endeavor. However, I would direct you to the National Court Reporters Association who would gladly provide you with a package of materials that would address that concern.

    “Please tell me if you are claiming that transcriptions prepared by transcriptionists are less accurate than transcripts prepared by court reporters. If you make that claim, please identify an unbiased study in the federal courts that support that claim. If you don’t make the claim or cannot support it, will you admit that both are about as accurate as the other?” I do not have a study at hand, but I do know from my own personal experience how god-awful it is to transcribe audio from courts. Kudos to the highly conscientious audio transcriber who is able to differentiate 9 speakers in a patent case when they do not know who is talking. Kudos to that transcriber for being able to hear those words when someone decides to cough or shuffle papers or, as so very often happens, speaks away from the microphone. Kudos to that transcriber who is able to find the correct spelling of some obscure business a juror mentions he works at when no one bothers to ask them to speak up. In my 25 years of reporting, I can count the handful of times I’ve had to put “inaudible” in a transcript. Ask a transcriber how often they have to do so! And I don’t blame them one single bit. It’s pure hell transcribing audio. But I’m going to throw you a bone here. Absolutely, a good, conscientious transcriber (with the education and experience to back up their knowledge) who has access to pristine audio is perfectly capable of producing a great transcript. Good luck finding that pristine audio, however.

    “Finally, please state the average annual salary of a federal court reporter and then the average annual gross amount shown on schedule C (or equivalent) for “real time,” transcript and copy income. I bet that the average total income of federal court reporters approaches and perhaps exceeds the average salary paid Assistant Federal Public Defenders. Am I wrong?” Both the salary of a federal court reporter as well as a federal judge are easily determined through a simple Google search. I’m not sure what an assistant federal public defender earns, so I can’t state whether a court reporter earns more. However, I’m all for giving raises to assistant federal public defenders, though. Along that vein, in these rotten days of sequestration, I think it would be far fairer to reduce the salary of every single federal judicial employee, from federal judge on down to entry clerk, than it would be to eliminate some positions leaving others untouched. How in the world is that right, just, or fair? I would bet my eye teeth that’s never going to happen.

    Kind regards.

    • JBA,

      I didn’t sleep well last night because as soon as I wrote the comment I began to worry that the questions I put to you were too harsh. As dawn breaks, the cold light convinces me that I was mean spirited. I apologize to you. My apology is sincere.

      You and I don’t agree, but I admit that most judges strongly disagree with me and agree with you. I also admit that “real time” is a great feature, and skilled court reporters are the only ones that can provide that service. Unfortunately, I think “real time” is a judicial frill that we judges can do without in order to save money for other more important things. I also think that making our federal courts transparent by uploading digital audio each day is a pearl of great price. Again, I don’t want court reporters fired, but rather replaced.

      If the world was different, like it was when I suspect you and I started our careers, we would be on the same side. Alas, I think the world has changed so much that we can never go back. The core of the federal judiciary is being destroyed by the sequester, and I am in the life boat mode. I suspect that is why I overreacted to your comment. That is certainly not an excuse for my lack of civility, just an explanation.

      Be well and prosper. I mean it.

      All the best.

      RGK

      • RGK,no apology necessary. These debates are filled with passion from both sides of the argument. One thing you and I can totally agree on is your statement: “The core of the federal judiciary is being destroyed by the sequester…” This is truly a travesty for our nation. My only wish is that you and I could work together to fix this mess. I assure you, court reporters will do everything in our power to work together with you and all the judges to face this crisis. I think we both (judges and court reporters) truly wish to serve the public by preserving the constitutional rights and protections our forefathers have bestowed on this great nation. Perhaps somewhere there is a happy medium.

        Take care.

        JBA

    • Dear JBA, let me quote you from above. “We are at the dawn of voice recognition technology. It may all change in the future. But that future is not now. We court reporters are the only voice recognition technology at this point that is not speaker-dependent.”

      We are not at the dawn of voice recognition technology. As a court reporter myself, former US District Court in Washington, DC, I have always been intrigued by technology. I was one of the first in the country to use Stenograph’s PDP 11 in Chicago at the 1977 NSRA Convention writing the general session with six other Americans who truly were leaders in the industry, I was the seventh and most certainly not their caliber. I could only hope to reach their capability.

      Notwithstanding being proficient at realtime myself since 1986, I also watched how Dragon Naturally Speaking in 1983 started off being a joke and now with version 12 right out of the box in 30 minutes you have created a voice profile permitting 99% accuracy, and if your discipline is in medicine or in mechanical engineering or law, purchase its dictionary module to guarantee perfect spelling and word recognition for very peculiar terminology.

      Now that’s what’s called speaker dependent voice recognition.

      Do you own an iPhone? Because if you do, then you have most likely used Siri, an Apple product. Well, that’s not true. All of us learned a few months ago that Apple announced that in fact Siri is a Dragon product. As you well know, or certainly will as of now, it never asked you to create a voice profile, yet if you have a good voice, you are clear in your diction, like in the days when we all used to dictate from our paper notes to our typists, and you are open minded, you have experienced where you can dictate long text messages for texting as well as for emailing and you have seen unbelievable accuracy, and if you are a frequent user of Siri it leans your dictation patterns and after teaching it how to spell certain words, weeks later when you dictate the same phrase, it comes out accurately!

      That is still speaker dependent a one on one experience.

      Now here’s the shocker. Multiple speaker independent voice recognition is here with 90% and better accuracy. Realtime multiple speaker independent VR is also here, but is not as accurate because of lack of processing chip power, but alas, that is only a matter of time before Silicon Valley introduces that blazing four-core chip, some say within two years.

      No, don’t take my word for 90% and better accuracy. Go to Google and enter “Liberated Learning Consortium” and visit the tabs on their ever developing voice recognition technology and take note of the names of the institutions participating in this global effort that the rest of the world wants to see come to fruition EXCEPT for we court reporters.

      To experience true multiple speaker independent voice recognition is invite you to go to YouTube and type in “Hubbard & Associates” and view several examples where I have captured video off the Internet and had our voice recognition program residing in a Cloud covert the audio track into readable search enabled text synchronized to the video!

      As a matter of fact, a number of those examples are videos taken right from the Administration of the U.S. District Courts website. There are 15 federal courtrooms around the country experimenting with video in the courtroom. That’s where my YouTube examples come from.

      Now ask yourself this poignant question. “I am an assistant federal public defender. I fear losing my job because of the federal sequester that they say is here to stay indefinitely. In the meantime as much as I love giving JBA every opportunity to make money on orders for real time and rough drafts and certified copies, I can’t. We do not have the budget. However, if the court is digitally video recording my trial (and JBA, the Judicial Conference will eventually allow it) gosh, wouldn’t it be great to take that video and have Mr. Hubbard run it through his system for a fraction of what it costs today that is being charged by our own court reporters? And, who cares if there are gaps here and there, mistranslated audio here and there, the point is I am able to search passages of testimony, by search the text or searching by time and the click on PLAY and the video plays with full audio of the passage I want the judge and jury to see and I can SHARE that cost with the prosecution!”

      JBA, it most likely will not be me who offers this services a there are force in the universe that have predestined large corporations to contract with the federal system who will be awarded a very lucrative contract to do what I have described here, and much more, and federal court reporters continuing to charge outdated unmanageable fees for real time and roughs will have been long before this happens fired in order to make room for other technologies.

      There is absolutely no sense in keeping somebody on staff for another 20 years costing benefits, vacation, and contributions by the federal courts to future pensions when they can right now during the sequester justify firing all court reporters so the groundwork can be laid to make it happen.

      Indeed, we court reporters will become text editors. We will take my YouTube output, and like scopists of today, fill in the blanks and appropriate punctuation, and speaker IDs where the software makes the odd mistake.

      We all know MVIVR (multiple voice independent voice recognition) is only going to improve along with amazingly simultaneous language interpretation. But that is a whole other story.

      We can continue to justify our existence just as did the pen writers of 60 years ago, just as the coachmen and buggy whip days of horse drawn carriage, but we will have to come to terms with ourselves. Those of us who do not fight it and now seek opportunities will survive and do very well, just like those same coachmen who started aftermarket opportunities such as making different parts of cars sold to Henry Ford to only improve on his product.

      What is your choice going to be, JBA.

  14. Judge,
    I found this blog because some court reporters mentioned your name online, so I Googled you to see what all the fuss was about.

    I, too, am a court reporter, and I’m saddened by what you have to say about my chosen profession. I realize where I work and where you work have different needs in terms of transcript production. Today, for example, in my federal courthouse, we had 11 night-delivery trials, plus we had to cover all the other district judges and magistrates who didn’t have trials. Night delivery means that we don’t go home until the transcript is done and emailed to the parties. For me, that generally means I leave work at 6:30 each night and then start my hour-long commute home. I haven’t eaten dinner with my young children in years during the workweek.

    Where I work, all the reporters are realtime certified, plus we all have our merit certificates, which means we passed a test at 260 words a minute at 95 percent accuracy or better. We provide realtime to all our judges and to many of the litigants. The litigants send the realtime feed out of the courthouse to lawyers back at their offices who can do research and email the attorneys in the courtroom when it matters — while a point is being argued or a witness is on the stand. I can see what many judges are doing on the bench. They are listening with one ear while busy doing other things. Someone says “objection,” and they quickly check the realtime and then rule.

    I derive great satisfaction from my work. I work hard, and I’m good at what I do. I’m protecting the record, and that’s my only responsibility. An accurate and timely transcript is important for justice. Please don’t belittle the contributions that I and my fellow federal reporters make each and every day. Are we human? Yes. Do our machines tip over sometimes? Well, no, not really. Are we a valuable team member in the courtroom? I’d like to believe definitely.

    Thank you.

    • Thank you for writing. I do not dispute your talent or your worth as a human being. But, as I have said before, in my view, “real time” is an expensive and unnecessary judicial frill that can be effectively replaced with digital audio with the added benefit of making our courts far more transparent to the public. Because court reporters have been loyal and valuable employees, I don’t want court reporters fired. I want them replaced as they retire or resign.

      I am sorry that we disagree. However, I cannot in good conscience watch federal public defenders, court clerks, and all the rest get canned while court reporters remain left alone. As one of your counterparts suggested, maybe it is time for judges to take a little pain. If that is true, giving up the insanely expensive cost of “real time” is a small price for judges to pay.

      All the best.

      RGK

      • Judge,
        Thank you for acknowledging court reporters as loyal employees. I agree wholeheartedly with you that what is happening to the federal defenders is tragic and (excuse the pun) indefensible. This whole sequester is absurd. It hurts criminal defendants and all the hard-working middle class families who are loyal federal employees. The answer, though, is not to get rid of one group of federal employee over another.
        As an aside, I know it’s been mentioned before — Realtime is FREE for the judges and staff.

        Thank you.

        • My dear friend,

          I really don’t want to extend our disagreement, but “real time” is not “free” to the judiciary. The cost of “real time” is the reporter’s salary. If digital audio were provided and operated by a CRD, but there was no “real time,” the judiciary would save the salary costs of the reporter that provided the judge with “real time.” The last time our court looked at cost comparisons, once you amortize the cost of “digital audio” and any required upgrades of sound systems, the savings to the judiciary is roughly $110,000 per year for every 3 court reporters you replace.

          Anyway, both you and I can agree, I think, that the present situation is tearing at the very heart of the judiciary. That is terribly sad. All the best.

          RGK

          • If your CRD is running the recording equipment and keeping notes, your CRD is now not doing the duties they would normally be doing. You’re not counting that as a cost. It is a cost. I have judges in my courthouse who will not start a proceeding unless their realtime is up and running. One of them is a senior judge. As has been pointed out, it doesn’t cost the court a penny. The digital recording technology is inferior without question.

            • I totally agree that any cost comparison ought to include CRDs. If you do the analysis, the question frankly becomes which employee’s services are cheaper to the court assuming that both products “real time” and digital audio are roughly equal. As you know,most state courts operate with one support staff person in the courtroom (typically a court reporter who also performs the federal CRD’s job too). Digital audio allows us to combine functions and eliminate one employee. If federal court reporters were to offer to take over the CRDs job, I presume you would agree that there would be a savings. The reverse is true too. Once you eliminate one employee, the question then becomes which product “real time” or digital audio is the best way to go. You can fairly debate the answer to that question but I would opt for the extra judicial transparency that occurs from uploading digital audio to the world each day.

              All the best.

              RGK

              • Judge,

                Realtime and digital audio are not the same in any way, and realtime is much better. I could line the people up at the courtroom door to so testify and everyone in line would be attorneys. There is no doubt that you could make the audio record available to everyone each day, as long as you count the time for the person to upload it to the system, etc., as a cost. And then I’d challenge you to count just how many Joe Public types actually come to listen to the recordings. I would wager there would be no line at all for that. Transparency only occurs when there is an interest in seeing, or in this case hearing, what is being offered up. Why someone would want to listen to a civl case about a contract is beyond me. Why someone would want to listen to a plea hearing about a street drug dealer is also beyond me. Besides, if they wanted to hear any of this, if there were actually people other than family who wanted to hear this, they could just walk into court that day and see and hear it live.

                • For my views on the overarching importance of judicial transparency in the electronic age, read my article in the University of New Brunswick Law Journal. It is entitled, The Courts, the Internet, E-Filing and Democracy. The formal citation is 56 U.N.B.L.J. 40 (2007).

                  The Canadian law review solicited the article from me because I had earlier expressed myself on the value of transparency in the Internet age. The article was part of a symposium. In short, and with respect, if court reporters don’t think judicial transparency is of singular importance, far and away more important than the judicial frill of highly restricted “real time,” a large portion of the rest of the world strongly disagrees.

                  All the best.

                  RGK

                  • The only thing is, Judge, I don’t remember anyone saying court reporters thought judicial transparency was unimportant, so I’m not sure why you would say that.

                    • I am sorry, but I apparently misunderstood the “Joe Public” discussion in your e-mail. Moreover, how do you make transparent to the world what actually occurs during a sentencing hearing, a trial, a preliminary injunction hearing and all the rest unless you upload on the day those things occur a verbatim record of what was said and done?

                      All the best.

                      RGK

    • Dear Anonymous, let me quote you from above.

      We are not at the dawn of voice recognition technology. As a court reporter myself, former US District Court in Washington, DC, I have always been intrigued by technology. I was one of the first in the country to use Stenograph’s PDP 11 in Chicago at the 1977 NSRA Convention writing the general session with six other Americans who truly were leaders in the industry, I was the seventh and most certainly not their caliber. I could only hope to reach their capability.

      Notwithstanding being proficient at realtime myself since 1986, I also watched how Dragon Naturally Speaking in 1983 started off being a joke and now with version 12 right out of the box in 30 minutes you have created a voice profile permitting 99% accuracy, and if your discipline is in medicine or in mechanical engineering or law, purchase its dictionary module to guarantee perfect spelling and word recognition for very peculiar terminology.

      Now that’s what’s called speaker dependent voice recognition.

      Do you own an iPhone? Because if you do, then you have most likely used Siri, an Apple product. Well, that’s not true. All of us learned a few months ago that Apple announced that in fact Siri is a Dragon product. As you well know, or certainly will as of now, it never asked you to create a voice profile, yet if you have a good voice, you are clear in your diction, like in the days when we all used to dictate from our paper notes to our typists, and you are open minded, you have experienced where you can dictate long text messages for texting as well as for emailing and you have seen unbelievable accuracy, and if you are a frequent user of Siri it leans your dictation patterns and after teaching it how to spell certain words, weeks later when you dictate the same phrase, it comes out accurately!

      That is still speaker dependent a one on one experience.

      Now here’s the shocker. Multiple speaker independent voice recognition is here with 90% and better accuracy. Realtime multiple speaker independent VR is also here, but is not as accurate because of lack of processing chip power, but alas, that is only a matter of time before Silicon Valley introduces that blazing four-core chip, some say within two years.

      No, don’t take my word for 90% and better accuracy. Go to Google and enter “Liberated Learning Consortium” and visit the tabs on their ever developing voice recognition technology and take note of the names of the institutions participating in this global effort that the rest of the world wants to see come to fruition EXCEPT for we court reporters.

      To experience true multiple speaker independent voice recognition is invite you to go to YouTube and type in “Hubbard & Associates” and view several examples where I have captured video off the Internet and had our voice recognition program residing in a Cloud covert the audio track into readable search enabled text synchronized to the video!

      As a matter of fact, a number of those examples are videos taken right from the Administration of the U.S. District Courts website. There are 15 federal courtrooms around the country experimenting with video in the courtroom. That’s where my YouTube examples come from.

      Now ask yourself this poignant question. “I am an assistant federal public defender. I fear losing my job because of the federal sequester that they say is here to stay indefinitely. In the meantime as much as I love giving JBA every opportunity to make money on orders for real time and rough drafts and certified copies, I can’t. We do not have the budget. However, if the court is digitally video recording my trial (and JBA, the Judicial Conference will eventually allow it) gosh, wouldn’t it be great to take that video and have Mr. Hubbard run it through his system for a fraction of what it costs today that is being charged by our own court reporters? And, who cares if there are gaps here and there, mistranslated audio here and there, the point is I am able to search passages of testimony, by search the text or searching by time and the click on PLAY and the video plays with full audio of the passage I want the judge and jury to see and I can SHARE that cost with the prosecution!”

      JBA, it most likely will not be me who offers this services a there are force in the universe that have predestined large corporations to contract with the federal system who will be awarded a very lucrative contract to do what I have described here, and much more, and federal court reporters continuing to charge outdated unmanageable fees for real time and roughs will have been long before this happens fired in order to make room for other technologies.

      There is absolutely no sense in keeping somebody on staff for another 20 years costing benefits, vacation, and contributions by the federal courts to future pensions when they can right now during the sequester justify firing all court reporters so the groundwork can be laid to make it happen.

      Indeed, we court reporters will become text editors. We will take my YouTube output, and like scopists of today, fill in the blanks and appropriate punctuation, and speaker IDs where the software makes the odd mistake.

      We all know MVIVR (multiple voice independent voice recognition) is only going to improve along with amazingly simultaneous language interpretation. But that is a whole other story.

      We can continue to justify our existence just as did the pen writers of 60 years ago, just as the coachmen and buggy whip days of horse drawn carriage, but we will have to come to terms with ourselves. Those of us who do not fight it and now seek opportunities will survive and do very well, just like those same coachmen who started aftermarket opportunities such as making different parts of cars sold to Henry Ford to only improve on his product.

      What is your choice going to be, Anonymous?

  15. Pingback: Blog of the Week!!! | Georgia Coalition for Child Protection Reform

  16. Pingback: Federal Judge Makes Case To Replace Court Reporters w/ Digital Recording | VCR

    • Dear Randel,

      We are not at the dawn of voice recognition technology. As a court reporter myself, former US District Court in Washington, DC, I have always been intrigued by technology. I was one of the first in the country to use Stenograph’s PDP 11 in Chicago at the 1977 NSRA Convention writing the general session with six other Americans who truly were leaders in the industry, I was the seventh and most certainly not their caliber. I could only hope to reach their capability.

      Notwithstanding being proficient at realtime myself since 1986, I also watched how Dragon Naturally Speaking in 1983 started off being a joke and now with version 12 right out of the box in 30 minutes you have created a voice profile permitting 99% accuracy, and if your discipline is in medicine or in mechanical engineering or law, purchase its dictionary module to guarantee perfect spelling and word recognition for very peculiar terminology.

      Now that’s what’s called speaker dependent voice recognition.

      Do you own an iPhone? Because if you do, then you have most likely used Siri, an Apple product. Well, that’s not true. All of us learned a few months ago that Apple announced that in fact Siri is a Dragon product. As you well know, or certainly will as of now, it never asked you to create a voice profile, yet if you have a good voice, you are clear in your diction, like in the days when we all used to dictate from our paper notes to our typists, and you are open minded, you have experienced where you can dictate long text messages for texting as well as for emailing and you have seen unbelievable accuracy, and if you are a frequent user of Siri it leans your dictation patterns and after teaching it how to spell certain words, weeks later when you dictate the same phrase, it comes out accurately!

      That is still speaker dependent a one on one experience.

      Now here’s the shocker. Multiple speaker independent voice recognition is here with 90% and better accuracy. Realtime multiple speaker independent VR is also here, but is not as accurate because of lack of processing chip power, but alas, that is only a matter of time before Silicon Valley introduces that blazing four-core chip, some say within two years.

      No, don’t take my word for 90% and better accuracy. Go to Google and enter “Liberated Learning Consortium” and visit the tabs on their ever developing voice recognition technology and take note of the names of the institutions participating in this global effort that the rest of the world wants to see come to fruition EXCEPT for we court reporters.

      To experience true multiple speaker independent voice recognition is invite you to go to YouTube and type in “Hubbard & Associates” and view several examples where I have captured video off the Internet and had our voice recognition program residing in a Cloud covert the audio track into readable search enabled text synchronized to the video!

      As a matter of fact, a number of those examples are videos taken right from the Administration of the U.S. District Courts website. There are 15 federal courtrooms around the country experimenting with video in the courtroom. That’s where my YouTube examples come from.

      Now ask yourself this poignant question. “I am an assistant federal public defender. I fear losing my job because of the federal sequester that they say is here to stay indefinitely. In the meantime as much as I love giving JBA every opportunity to make money on orders for real time and rough drafts and certified copies, I can’t. We do not have the budget. However, if the court is digitally video recording my trial (and JBA, the Judicial Conference will eventually allow it) gosh, wouldn’t it be great to take that video and have Mr. Hubbard run it through his system for a fraction of what it costs today that is being charged by our own court reporters? And, who cares if there are gaps here and there, mistranslated audio here and there, the point is I am able to search passages of testimony, by search the text or searching by time and the click on PLAY and the video plays with full audio of the passage I want the judge and jury to see and I can SHARE that cost with the prosecution!”

      JBA, it most likely will not be me who offers this services a there are force in the universe that have predestined large corporations to contract with the federal system who will be awarded a very lucrative contract to do what I have described here, and much more, and federal court reporters continuing to charge outdated unmanageable fees for real time and roughs will have been long before this happens fired in order to make room for other technologies.

      There is absolutely no sense in keeping somebody on staff for another 20 years costing benefits, vacation, and contributions by the federal courts to future pensions when they can right now during the sequester justify firing all court reporters so the groundwork can be laid to make it happen.

      Indeed, we court reporters will become text editors. We will take my YouTube output, and like scopists of today, fill in the blanks and appropriate punctuation, and speaker IDs where the software makes the odd mistake.

      We all know MVIVR (multiple voice independent voice recognition) is only going to improve along with amazingly simultaneous language interpretation. But that is a whole other story.

      We can continue to justify our existence just as did the pen writers of 60 years ago, just as the coachmen and buggy whip days of horse drawn carriage, but we will have to come to terms with ourselves. Those of us who do not fight it and now seek opportunities will survive and do very well, just like those same coachmen who started aftermarket opportunities such as making different parts of cars sold to Henry Ford to only improve on his product.

      What is your choice going to be, Randel?

  17. Judge,

    Just one suggestion for your proposal. The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers recommends courtrooms have a person record the proceedings which you already plan to do by having the recording job done as an additional duty of a present courtroom employee, but most courts have a special court employee called “a court monitor” whose exclusive and only duty is to run the tape recording machine and to make ongoing notations of the matters being heard by the court.

    You would want a good index of the court proceedings so that a whole day’s proceedings wouldn’t have to be played to find particular parts of the proceedings that needed to be transcribed.

    Your cost savings wouldn’t be as much by having the additional “court monitor,” but having good “court monitors” has been a real key to the success of electronic recording in the courtroom and proven successful all over the country.

    Anonymous

    • Thank you.

      In the federal system, we used courtroom deputies (CRDs) who are highly trained on digital audio. They monitor using headphones and computer screens making log notes as they go. Of course, the judge can make log notes as well. The CRDs are also responsible for handling every other aspect of courtroom management–from handling exhibits, to swearing witnesses, to dealing with the jury. The system works great.

      Thanks again for your input. All the best.

  18. RGK, I am entering this discussion late but your comments are a breath of fresh air. They are clear and concise and go directly to point. Yes, every non-biased study concludes that digital recordings are equally as accurate or better than stenographic reporting and the cost savings are obvious. I had to chuckle when you asked for a non-biased study, you were referred to the NCRA. My transcription firm actually participated in the original July 1983 Federal Judicial Center study, A Comparative Evaluation of Stenographic and Audiotape Methods for United States District Court Reporting. In fact, Mike Greenwood, the lead analyst for that study, recently made a presentation about the historical significance of the study at this year’s annual conference for the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT). Thirty years later, we continue to see federal courts moving to digital recordings.

    I am also the current President of AAERT and one of its founding directors. We have been in existence for 20 years and our membership continues to grow. As a professional association, we come in contact with many members of the judiciary and the bar at court conferences and exhibitions and I can tell you that your views are more often the norm. Many attorneys, judges and court personnel have wholeheartedly embraced this new technology and understand that it is the future. Certainly, the sequester has accelerated its installation in the federal courts.

    We also appreciate your understanding of the need to have well-trained courtroom personnel such as your CRD to monitor and control the digital recording. Too often, this technology is characterized by its opponents as a tape recorder turned on at the start of the day and never looked at again until it is turned off at the end of the day. This is highly-sophisticated digital recording software with channel separation and supporting annotating programs.

    Thank you.

    • Jim,

      Thanks for your detailed comment. I was particularly fascinated by your experience with the 1983 Federal Judicial Center’s study. Steno reporters would rather forget that unbiased and independent report.

      In a very strange coincidence, the FJC just got done several minutes ago filming me for a piece it is doing on digital audio. The piece will be quite detailed. It will focus on districts, judges and court staff that are now using digital audio and those who were part of the pilot project that ultimately resulted in the authorization to post digital audio in civil and criminal cases to CM/ECF, thus making the participating courts transparent to the world.

      All the best.

      RGK

      • That’s great and, yes, what a strange coincidence. I would love to have a copy of this FJC project/report if it will be made available to the public. It sounds like it would be of great interest to our AAERT membership.

  19. Judge,

    I must say it amazes me how far behind the time the courts of the United States are. I appreciated you have a much more complicated structure and history than other nations, which makes change more difficult, but digital recording and transcription has been available for over a decade now. There are many countries whose State and Federal systems rely on digital recordings (audio and or video) as the base level of record of a court session.

    Having worked in the industry for 7 years across 4 countries (all of which have successfully installed digital recording), and having completed the studies for and against investing in digital technology, there is only 1 reason not to do this. Stenographers! Don’t get me wrong I love them and think they are extremely talented individuals, but they are genuinely afraid of losing their jobs. The one side of digital recordings that is not always captured, is that it actually becomes the better/best friend of the stenos.

    Stenos often do extremely long hours, back to back, week in week out. So they should look to take advantage of the technology (and most have been digitally recording for years as their backups), and have a more flexible work environment and embrace digital technology.

    I suspect though as well it is more of an argument in the states about who owns the transcript. The stenos have had the power in this regards in the US for a long time. This has to change! The state or federal system has to own the recording and the transcript. There are many private companies (normally politically aligned) that have far too much power in the regard. The State or Federal or county has to have the complete ownership of the court record. That’s the one area that needs to be applied to any new contracts put in place.

    Judge I’d be happy to elaborate privately if you wished to get some more information on this, but credit you for making a stand about changes in the industry. The technology is there – it should be applied to suit the better outcomes for the courts and in turn for the general public.

    Embrace the change!

    • Thank you for your comment. I agree with virtually everything you wrote.

      Thanks also for the offer to speak privately. To be utterly frank, I know enough to know that rational arguments are not likely to carry the day. It will be the pressure of lack of money and the retirement of court reporters that will ultimately motivate change. So, for now, I will pass on your kind offer.

      All the best.

      RGK

  20. After reading the post and all of the comments I had a thought: If audio is so much better than the written word when capturing something important for all posterity, why is this a written and not an audio post? Imagine, if you will, that this was an audio blog post as well as all the audio responses and surresponses. Certainly that would be an improvement.

    Hmmmm, wonder why that methodology hasn’t caught on in the blog world…

    • Anonymous,

      Several thoughts:

      1. I have never suggested that “audio is much better than the written word when capturing something important for all posterity . . . .” With respect, you raise a straw man argument and a weak one at that. What I have suggested is that digital audio is equal to steno reporting when it comes to accuracy, that digital audio is far cheaper, and that digital audio allows courts to make what they do much more transparent at little or no cost to the litigants or the court as compared to steno reporting.

      2. Please don’t confuse a transcript with the record. A digital audio record (1 and 0s) and a steno record (key strokes) both make the same record. The transcript is simply a translation of that record and can be produced from either source.

      3. Blog posts are in writing for the same reason that songs are sung.

      All the best.

      RGK

  21. Spoken like a true ignoramus who just doesn’t like court reporters. Thanks for your page full of dribble. I rolled my eyes so hard, I actually saw my brain. Sigh …

  22. Are you aware that a transcript may have a word index that will indicate each place a specific word was used, i.e. “patio” is found on page 178, line 12; page 192, line 15; page 200, line 18. “Wrench” is found on page 98, line 14, and so on. This enables one to locate anywhere in a transcript where a certain topic came up, even in a lengthy proceeding. Is that not much easier than listening to hours or days worth of audio tape to find out when something pertinent was mentioned? I would think that would have a great deal of value.

      • Judge, although you say you are retired, I have worked with a number of judges when they say they have retired, they really go to senior status. Do you still hear cases as an Article III judge? Also along this line, the AO many years ago (30 or more) when court reporters were plentiful it introduced the program that notwithstanding a full time judge has his regular reporter for many years, the next day he goes to senior status he loses his reporter and the only method of recording or preserving the record was using tape recorders and since most judges did not like to make waves, they gave up their reporter. So don’t feel bad about replacing court reporters. You are not the only one. When the world went digital quantum leaps were made and not only the rules changed but a whole new game for many careers changed forcing everyone to rethink their future. Yes, when there were no tape recorders, for sure the court reporter was God’s Gift to the courtroom. No longer is that the case. Companies like Jim Bowen’s, president of AAERT, the electronic transcribers, they have been picking up all the work as court reporters are dismissed, quit, retire. Yet, they too are facing the same ultimate dilemma with voice recognition. You just need to go to YouTube and search for Prof. Michio Kaku and see him speak on the near future and not too distant future of technology right now in development to be released to the public at large and most certainly real time auto transcribing by voice recognition is shown to be one of the biggest priorities that the whole world wants. So do not feel bad about the sound logic and in your beliefs on how you feel about court reporters. It is true. Our usefulness is expiring. Court reporters can no longer justify the high cost of say daily copy of $6.00 per page for the original and first copy. $2.00 per page for a copy sale to one party. For $3.00 per page for a real time hookup. The grand total is so far $11.00 per page. In a typical all day session, that might be 250 pages or $2,750 for one day’s transcript. After a ten day trial, that is almost $30,000!

        Now comes along some day soon superior automated real time voice recognition, because every one wears a wireless mic, a CRD is paid an extra $100 a day to really monitor that all equipment is functioning, they interrupt if people are talking over one another, they even interrupt just like a court reporter would if a word or phrase uttered was unintelligible – just as would a court reporter would – and guess what, counsel and the litigants get to enjoy reading an almost perfect but still a rough draft transcript that is also linked to audio or video for easy instant searches coming with all the usual bells and whistles that most court reporters offer such as what Suzanne mentioned.

        And the cost? Perhaps no more than $200 per day. The AO will finally own the record and the AO will outsource to contractors where there is an appeal or requests to clean up the transcript during trial, and their fee will not be what they charge now for transcribing the full record but a much smaller fraction thereof and they will still make money, and how is that, because they will be handling volume, huge unthinkable volume, because then most assuredly everything will be transcribed by the Cloud in every courtroom of any courthouse.

        • Steve,

          I use digital audio and started many years ago when I was the Chief Judge. I am on senior status now, but I take a full caseload. Things have changed somewhat on budgetary matters regarding senior judges and reporters or digital audio. I won’t delve into details, but, essentially, a senior judge who takes a certain minimum load generates a credit to the Clerk’s office which in turn allows the Clerk to procure the services of a court reporter or digital audio system for the senior status judge.

          Finally, Steve, I appreciate your engagement, but I want to be very clear on something. I don’t endorse any person or company or their services. With respect, that includes you and your company.

          All the best.

          RGK

          • Judge, I know as a sitting judge, you cannot do any such thing, otherwise you invoke the wrath or some form of reprimand by your colleagues within the Judicial Conference. However, I thank you for acknowledging me, and I am sure, although you hesitate to comment on the technology as heretofore expressed by myself, as you have already commented about technologies already, I am sure I have at least scintillated your imagination and most certainly your curiosity. You have indicated that the AO is experimenting with Dragon. Not surprising in the least. They must. They have to understand the technology first before they choose which system is best when the time comes to install a number of pilot projects just as we have with our 15 federal courtrooms around the country integrating video in the courtrooms at this time only in civil cases. That three year project is one year away from completion. I have no doubt the JC will praise its virtues and quickly move to implement video in criminal cases. Just imagine had the Whitey Bulger trial been videotaped for live streaming on the Internet with thousands of hits per day and all that revenue going to support federal court programs. We both know this is going to happen.

            The YouTube videos of Prof. Michio Kaku on our future, he explains we are very very close to instant translations as well. So if you have a Spanish speaking witness and everyone else is only English, we will not only have instant real time transcription in English spoken by English speakers but ALSO the Spanish being spoken will also be in English and the reverse is also true for the Spanish witness who will hear a computer voice that sounds like a human voice speaking in Spanish its subtitles on the witness’ monitor where the witness sits.

            We are literally 5 to 7 years away from this awesome technology.

            Now, I don’t ask you to comment, but only if you chose to.

            Best to you as well

            Steve Hubbard

  23. Well, another thought. If our world renowned physicist who is also a futurist is correct after interviewing over 300 scientists around the world, his prophesies come to fruition in the time he clearly enunciates, then the AO would be absolutely be guilty of incompetent management to be hiring new court reporters to replace the retiring ones. Certainly, it begs the thought that it even makes more sense than ever to give every staff reporter some form of golden handshake, cut them loose, and rehire them as private contractors and when the time comes to migrate to ASR, automated speech recognition, contracts are terminated. So yes, the JC and the AO are sitting on a powder keg, how not to cause a stampede out of the courthouse. Any federal court reporter who still believes that they have a job forever is only fooling themselves. The most kind gesture here is to get them prepared mentally for the inevitable, psychologically ready to make a transition to private contract reporting and assessing what the family has to consider as a functioning unit.

  24. I do wish that the Clerk’s office in CAND had read through to your final comment. They laid off one third (three) of their official reporters, myself being one of them. The three of us had combined 42 years of federal service. I was one of the most dedicated reporters on staff and still too young to retire, yet I was tossed out literally without a goodbye. Fortunately, I am highly skilled and will have plenty of work for years in the private sector.

    • Joan,

      I am very sorry, and I hope you believe me.

      The Congress is destroying the federal judiciary. It is doing so by treating real people like they are not citizens deserving of fair treatment. But you know that.

      I hope you make a lot of money in the private sector. I also hope that you remember what has been done to you when you vote.

      All the best.

      RGK

  25. I’ve spent the last hour reading the many comments and posts by all of you, and I will agree that many proceedings that go on on a daily basis in federal courts aren’t ever going to be transcribed and wouldn’t have a problem with SOME proceedings being electronically recorded. But having said that, I think the obvious solution to this is put the onus on the lawyers who bring their respective cases to trial and let them retain the court reporters to provide court reporting services, which removes the salary issues that the federal courts are having to find ways of cutting costs.

    I am a court reporter and can talk ad nauseam about how ineffective DAR is and how you will not find one court reporter to transcribe a five-minute, five-hour, or five-week jury trial from DAR. So good luck with finding a competent, unbiased appellate-recognized certified individual to create from DAR a suitable, accurate transcript for review. For example, what do you do when you get two transcriptionists to transcribe the same trial — not knowing each one is transcribing the same trial — and they both come up to the appellate court for review and, lo and behold, the appellate court finds major discrepancies in their transcripts from a poorly-produced transcript? Which transcript will be deemed “The Official, Original” transcript? That will be a hoot to see how attorneys spend billable hours arguing in open court who (judge) is going to “certify” a good transcriptionist versus a poor transcriptionist?

    I say that to say this, what many states have done is getting rid of the “salaried” court reporter and put the responsibility on the lawyers whose cases are important to them to bring a court reporter from outside. Now, that just really deals with the civil side of federal litigation. But what do you do when you have a criminal defense lawyer whose client is facing murder charges or possible death penalty or life sentence charges? Do you think that lawyer will put is faith into a DAR system ran by a courtroom deputy who has more than one responsibility? I can safely say that will fail miserably over a period of time when they, Mr. Lawyer, with their only knowledge of the written record has been the dutiful court reporter will call them and say, “Will you please transcribe this two-week criminal trial? My client was found guilty. Can you give me a rate, please?” The court reporter will probably respond with, “Oh, really? Is that so? Umm, I will not transcribe something I can’t attest to. I will not struggle with hours and hours of terrible audio due to papers shuffling, ambient noises that are picked up by the sensitive DAR systems, and not knowing who is saying what, when. You better ask your paralegal or secretary if she’ll do it for you. Oh, yeah, it will probably take you 10x longer than had you just gotten a court reporter to report the proceedings from the beginning. Good luck, Mr. Lawyer.”

    Just my two cents

    • No doubt you are a federal court reporter on salary and very hopeful you will retire with a glorious pension. No doubt you report mostly criminal trials. No doubt 90% of the criminal trials you report all day long are drug related crimes. It’s not my cup of tea. The dad fact is still the NCRA and your USCRA has failed miserably to inspire new blood to take over. Stenos are a dying breed. That is the bottom line. The Administration of the Courts must plan for the future and it does NOT include Stenos. What it does include is superlative witeless digital recording equipment that is only getting better as we die off before we retire – some of us do you know – never get to see that pension – so yes, mechanization of the federal courts is taking hold and hopefully you are close to retirent to enjoy it before judges and public defenders who are seeing their brothers and sisters being linked slipped because of the federal sequester all agree to fire Stenos in favor of outsourcing to freelance court reporters and DAR transcribers and save the day by rehiring lost valuable trisl defense counsel that up until now no computer can replace whereas the exact opposite is happening to the former revered steno.

  26. I am a former court reporter who presently transcribes digital audio recordings for state court. I know from hours of listening to audio recordings that despite the many improvements in audio recording over the last few years, it is still much more difficult to get a clean transcript from a recording than it is from a live reporter. There are just too many inaudibles, even with people wearing microphones, monitoring the recording, etc.

    Another problem of the system is producing quality transcripts when needed. Initially, the court in my area used an inexpensive transcribing firm, but the transcripts were of such poor quality that the court ordered the few court reporters that still had jobs to do the transcribing. They are only paid $2.80 a page. That is 20 cents less per page than I was paid for federal court transcripts back in the ’90s.

    There is a lot more to producing transcripts than just typing up what is heard on a recording. A transcriptionist must have knowledge of many diverse fields; medical, legal, technical. Part of the job is also researching names, case cites, civil codes, terminology, etc.

    Furthermore, this myth that the court reporter makes a huge salary is just not true. The reporters I know make less now than they did ten years ago. Most now work as independent contractors and have no paid vacations or benefits. Appearance fees have been cut in half or are non-existent. As a scopist and transcriptionist, I am making the same wage or less than I was ten years ago.

    I have no doubt that one day technology may eliminate the need for court reporters entirely, but a major drawback to audio is that it is not so difficult to alter a recording or a transcript. Who will the courts pay to compare and certify that a recording and/or transcript is true and accurate?

    • You obviously have seen the writing on the wall. And it ain’t shorthand. So we have to deal with it. Frankly I would rather bid on a contract covering 5 or more courts for all their work even at $2.80 pp. The Feds are hurting real bad in the courts. Guaranteed salaries and benefits with paid vacations and future pensions is soon going to be history. I would not want to be a federal court reporter who is worried sick between today and when the ax falls and she and he are out of a permanent federal government job but given presumably first right of refusal to take an opportunity to come back as a freelance court reporter. The fact is there is a very little money to support, although court reporters have been a great asset to the federal court system and state court systems, but technology is moving quickly, it has no feelings whatsoever, and the people who install the equipment have even less of feelings for the court reporter, and no doubt the court administrators and the judges are feeling just about the same way. The peanut crunchers, the internal accountants and outside Actuaries who look into opportunities to save money, the court reporter is the first to leave the system. That is guaranteed. By the way, if you see any mistakes in this dictation, that’s fine, but I did it by talking into my iPhone using the Siri program. Piece of cake. Believe me voice recognition, independent and multiple speaker identification as people speak, one at a time, is it very nearby. As a matter fact I’m experimenting with the technology as we speak, and I’m not referring to my iPhone Siri. I’m referring to a very unusual expensive program that recognizes multiple voices and delivering Transcript in real time.

    • Dear Anonymous

      Another reason we are heading towards DAR as opposed to a live steno reporter is because we as a nation are becoming more and more stupid each and every year. I regularly listen to NPR and just yesterday the news announcer commented on the very sad fact that the great invincible best country in the world to live in, our USA, we are rated 19th behind many other countries in reading, math and science, that our “Stupid Index” is rising, that most of our children will not be able to compete for decent jobs. What is a court reporter? Certainly somebody who must know how to read and write and understand a very wide range of vocabulary. The training to learn the shorthand machine has been a failure as statistics continue to show only 5% graduate after struggling 3 and more years to become certified. Nobody in our generation wants to learn this machine. Producing a spit in the ocean in manpower every year is not going to answer the demand for court reporters. Even the stenomask or voice writing industry is not recruiting enough smart educated people who are eligible to learn how to use this device a system that uses software to hear your voice and like my iPhone produce a transcript with accurate spellings. With this kind of data out there there is little room for doubt no matter what your personal feelings all courts will necessarily migrate to full implementation of DAR and eventually to just software to provide same day, next day rough drafts of transcripts linked to the audio or video stream so that one can search by words or by timeline to play back critical passages and then someone like you or me will be paid to proofread the transcript against the same audio and the courts will pay us a fraction of that $2.80 pp because $2.80 pp will no longer exist as very intelligent software brings the initial cost down to less than $1.00 pp to produce the rough draft. So do not complain about $2.80 pp. enjoy that while you can.

      • You are very condescending. I am not complaining. I am merely stating facts. And guess what? The court tried to pay that fraction of a dollar to a cheap firm to produce transcripts and they were so full of errors and omissions that they had to throw them out. And guess what? Machines fail. Software fails. Quite frequently, in fact. I’ve already seen numerous audio recordings go by that were of such poor quality or did not even record so that no transcript was able to be produced at all. But if you guys want to sit around and listen to hundreds of hours of recordings and compare them with thousands of pages of DAR transcripts, be my guest. That will certainly give attorneys more hours to bill.

        • Comment to Anonymous. Readers of the judge’s blog should be informed if the recordings you refer to were made in compliance with the National Center for State Courts article “Making the Record Utilizing Digital Electronic Recording,” September 2013.

          According to those guidelines there must be a courtroom monitor maintaining a log of the proceedings and the digital recording must contain a minimum of four audio recording channels.

          For the full above-referenced NCSC article, go to http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.aaert.org/resource/resmgr/docs/digital_recording_paper_fina.pdf

          Can you supply the details of how the courtoom recordings you transcribed were made and if they were made in accordance with the industry standards as cited above?

          • Yes, all recordings are made in compliance and according to industry standards. In fact, the system they use is nationally recognized and provided by a company that bills themselves as “the number one digital evidence recording platform in the world.” The recordings are monitored by the clerk and a log is kept. Sorry, but the technology is just not that great and the log is so bare bones that it does not provide much information for a transcriber.

            I’ve been in this business over 20 years and my job is exactly what you all are debating. Listen to audio and video recordings and produce a transcript. I know what I’m talking about. Even with stellar recordings, it takes time and skill to produce a readable and accurate transcript. And that is still only to the best of my ability to hear it.

            Voice recognition transcripts need to be edited just like court reporter’s transcripts are edited. You can pay that 25 cents a page but you will get a 25 cent a page transcript full of errors, inaccuracies, and inaudibles. I’ve seen it firsthand.

            A live court reporter can certify what was said. A transcriber listening to a recording full of inaudibles cannot. So who will certify that the transcript is true and accurate? Are the judges and attorneys going to sit around and compare the transcripts and the recordings when there is a question about what was said? Oh, wait. That is already happening. Guess they need to hire a recording monitor that can take extensive notes on who is saying what and make sure the equipment is working properly.

            Honestly, this change may be coming but it is not all that reliable, nor is it the savior of budgets as some would have us believe.

            • Comment to Anonymous. It just happened several months ago that it was reported that electronic recording had missed Justice Thomas’ comments in proceedings of the Supreme Court.

              Justice Thomas’ missed comments were not audible in the combined channel audio released to the public, but later on the missing words of Justice Thomas were found when the individual channel recording were checked.

              When you were transcribing the court recordings did you change from channel to channel to separate out comments for the various microphones?

              Also were you using the software provided by the recording company which would allow you to go from channel to channel to hear the several simultaneous recordings made from the individual microphones placed around the room?

              Also were you using the foot pedal stop and go and rewind feature for relistening to the audio?

              There was a national controversy in the missing words of Justice Thomas. It was reported that electronic recording had missed Justice Thomas’ missing words when it was actually a stenotypist who missed the words and the missing words were found in checking the audio channels for the microphone that was placed near ustice Thomas to record his comments.

              To this day the false information that electronic recording missed Justice Thomas’ words is still on certain websites and has never been corrected to state that electronic recording actually found the missing words.

            • Further comments to Anonymous. I worked in the Connecticut Superior Courts as a stenotype court reporter and as an electronic court reporter.

              Electronic court reporters in the Connecticut Superior Court did not rely on just 4-channel recording and would add 6-channel recording when necessary to get the comments of lawyers questioning a distance away from the 4 microphones.

              It would appear that if the microphones were not picking up voices in the cases you transcribed, then the courtroom was not properly provided with the amount of necessary microphones.

              I would ask electronic recorders how many microphones they use recording on the various channels. Oftentimes six and more microphones may be needed, and a skilled electronic reporter should set up his courtroom so that no voices are missed.

              The problems you encountered may have been caused by an ordinary clerk monitoring the digital recording when an expert electronic court reporter was needed to set the room microphones up and to attend seeing to it that an excellent recording was made as his or her chief job and not as another chore for a courtroomn clerk to do.

            • Further comments to anonymous. The FTR digital recording system which you refer to has up to 8 channels so that 8 spots in the room could have microphones next to them.

              Reporter™ enables capture of up to 8 channels of recording, while delivering crucial features such as confidence monitoring and simultaneous archiving and back-up. This offers the peace of mind that court proceedings will be successfully recorded and safely archived.

              Also, it is against all good electronic recording practices for any monitor of the electronic recording to make barebones notes.

              Whoever was making the recordings you were provided with did a very poor job, and wherever your court system is, the management of that court system needs to do its job in insuring that lousy recordings are never made.

            • It matters very little what side of the reporting transcribing coin you are on. With 100% certainty and in the near future (within 10 years) the phrase “taking it down” will not include the stenotypist. There will literally be just a pitiful handful of steno schools left but they will be dedicated only to produce reporters for steno closed captioning as 100% of the courts will have completely migrated to DAR – even the federal courts – all because a generation ago kids decided that learning the stenotype was a very expensive course with only 5% or less ever making it to graduation and because ever superior technology in independent multiple voice recognition got to be so good that 90% and better real time transcription could be generated as working rough drafts for the cost of literally pennies per page. REMEMBER the keyword here is ROUGH DRAFT.

              Every courtroom will have its proceedings transcribed for posterity. Even traffic court crap will be transcribed and every transcript will be tethered to its audio companion as in being synchronized together for easy searches. As today’s court reporters retire and pass on to the Netherworld and as it is obvious even today, everybody who has the responsibility to ensure making a record they will only be remembering what stenos were once able to do, but seeing that stenos could not replenish their ranks something else in this ever changing world of opportunities and missed opportunities stenos simple fade into history like everybody else who once made a difference.

              For those of you who are brave and would like to see a glimpse of our future, then visit this link. I tell you businessmen and big international corporations could care less about stenos as well as real time enabled voice writers. Every one of them is pouring millions every year to be the first to mass market real time independent multiple voice recognition technologies. Think of it. Court reporters, CART reporters, DAR transcribers, every one of us will all become text editors. Our task will be simple. Cleaning up sworn verbatim transcripts. Most business meetings and other matters that do not require a transcript be certified as 100% accurate the first pass voice recognition transcript will be more than sufficient as far as archiving a very cheap but very reliable record.

              Yes, the steno industry is a dying art. Our time is about up. Only a few of us left. Get used to it.

              Now the link, a window into our future

              http://www.geekwire.com/2012/goodbye-human-translators-microsoft-demos-robust-speech-recognition-technology

  27. I think we should eliminate judges. Why don’t we just enter information into a computer about crimes, mitigating and aggravating circumstances, and let the computer spit out a sentence. We would save $140,000 per year, per judge in salary, plus massive benefits and retirement.

  28. LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING, JUDGES…IF YOU GO FOR THIS NEW SYSTEM AND FIRE YOUR COURT REPORTERS YOU WILL NO LONGER HAVE TWO STAFF MEMBERS. IT WILL BE YOU AND YOUR LAW CLERK, IF YOU’RE LUCKY. YOU LOSE YOUR SECRETARY, YOUR CONFIDANT, THE PERSON WHO DOES PERSONAL STUFF YOU SHOULDN’T ASK THEM TO DO. IT’S A BIG MISTAKE TO THINK THAT USING THIS SYSTEM WON’T IMPACT YOU. IN FACT, I WOULD ARGUE IT IS THE JUDGES WHO ARE IMPACTED THE MOST BY THIS SYSTEM. YOU’LL HAVE A NEW JOB…YOU’LL BE YOUR OWN SECRETARY AND YOU’LL VERY SOON SEE HOW ANNOYING AND TIME CONSUMING THE WORK THAT YOU USED TO GIVE TO YOUR COURT REPORTER IS BECAUSE YOU’LL BE DOING IT. DON’T BE FOOLED THAT THE LAW CLERK CAN DO IT ALL, BECAUSE SHE/HE WON’T HAVE TIME. YOU’LL BE STAYING AT THE OFFICE LATE AND BRINGING HOME WORK BECAUSE THIS GUY CONVINCED YOU THAT THE RECORD IS ALL A COURT REPORTER REALLY DOES. OVER THE YEARS HERE ARE SOME THINGS I’VE DONE FOR VARIOUS JUDGES I HAVE WORKED FOR:
    1. PHOTOCOPIED CHILDREN’S GRADES
    2. SET UP WEDDINGS
    3. ACTED AS WITNESS TO WEDDINGS
    4. TYPED YOUR PERSONAL LETTERS
    5. BROUGHT LUNCHES/DINNERS TO THE JUDGE
    6. PICKED UP PURCHASES/DRY CLEANING
    7. BEEN A MANDATORY LUNCH CONFIDANT
    8. BEEN A FRIEND
    9. THIS ONE YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE SO I WON’T EVEN TYPE IT
    10. TYPED UP WEDDING VOWS
    11. MAILED PERSONAL MAIL
    12. TOOK PERSONAL THINGS TO THE POST OFFICE
    13. WRAPPED HOLIDAY PRESENTS
    14. MADE EXCUSES FOR MY JUDGE’S LACK OF PRESENCE
    15. ACTED AS CHAUFFEUR
    16. DEFENDED MY JUDGE TO LAWYERS BAD MOUTHING HIM/HER IN PUBLIC
    17. ACTED AS A INTERMEDIARY TO THE PUBLIC COMING TO CHAMBERS
    18. TYPE THE JUDGE’S PERSONAL MEMOIRS!!!!!
    19. GREET PEOPLE THAT COME TO CHAMBERS
    20. RUN INTERFERENCE WITH DANGEROUS COURT CLIENTS OR OTHERS
    21. BE PRESENT WHEN A DRUNK LAWYER IS IN CHAMBERS AND STARTS HARASSING THE JUDGE
    22. KEEP AN EAR OPEN FOR GOSSIP AND QUASH IT
    23. ATTEND BAR ASSOCIATION PARTIES WITH THE JUDGE
    24. ATTEND OTHER EMPLOYEE GOING AWAY PARTIES WITH THE JUDGE OR ON BEHALF OF THE JUDGE
    25. CLEAN THE CHAMBERS
    26. CLEAN THE COURTROOM
    27. RUN INTERFERENCE WITH THE ASSIGNMENT DIVISION
    28. RUN INTERFERENCE WITH DISTRICT COURT ADMINISTRATION
    29. RESEARCH PERSONAL STUFF ONLINE FOR THE JUDGE
    30. GET THE JUDGE’S POP OR COFFEE DURING THE DAY
    31. DEAL WITH THE JUDGE’S CHILDREN
    32. AN EXPERIENCED COURT REPORTER WILL EVEN KNOW SOME LAW AND WILL NOTE WHEN THE JUDGE HAS MISSED SOMETHING
    33. TOLD NEW JUDGE HOW TO RULE !!!!
    34. TOLD NEW JUDGE HOW TO PERFORM VOIR DIRE
    35. ACTED AS HUMAN INFORMATION DESK REGARDING WHO TO CALL ABOUT WHAT PROBLEM IN THE COURTHOUSE/CHAMBERS
    36. SLAMMED LARGE BOOK ON TABLE WHEN JUDGE FALLS ALSEEP IN COURT
    37. HELP LAW CLERK OR ACT AS SUBSTITUTE LAW CLERK WHEN SHE/HE IS GONE
    38. ANSWER PHONES
    39. TYPE MEMORANDA
    30. TYPE ORDERS
    31. TYPE FINDING OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
    32. PUT OUT FIRES WHEN NECESSARY
    33. CONTACT LAWYERS
    34. READ BACK TESTIMONY
    35. PRODUCE TRANSCRIPTS OVERNIGHT
    36. ACT AS A CHECK ON JUDGE’S BLACK ROBE DISEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    37. ADVISE JUDGE ON AN PANOPLY OF SOCIAL ISSUES AND DEALING WITH PERSONALITIES BECAUSE THE JUDGE IS OFTEN TOO FAR REMOVED FROM THE REALITY OF WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING/DOING.
    38. BEING A JUDGE CAN BE VERY LONELY. THE LAW CLERK LEAVES EVERY YEAR OR SO, THE COURT REPORTER STAYS. THE COURT REPORTER IS AN EXCELLENT SUPPORT SYSTEM TO THE JUDGE AND IT SO MUCH MORE THAN A COURT RECORDING SYSTEM.
    39. I COULD GO ON AND ON AND ON.
    40. DOING MANDATORY WORK THAT YOU GIVE US BECAUSE YOU HAVE VOLUNTEERED FOR SOMETHING.
    41. THE LIST GOES ON AND ON AND ON AND ON. I DON’T HAVE TIME TO KEEP TYPING TONIGHT. I’M TOO DARN BUSY TO PROOF OR SPELLCHECK THIS, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? THAT’S ANOTHER THING I DID FOR ALL OF MY JUDGES ENDLESSLY. IF YOU THINK A PERSON WHO HAS A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA AND NO TRAINING CAN PRODUCE QUALITY TRANSCRIPTS FOR YOU, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.

    BEYOND MAKING SURE THERE IS AN EXCELLENT RECORD BEING MADE, WHEN YOU FIRE COURT REPORTERS YOU FIRE REAL PEOPLE AND REPLACE THEM WITH MACHINES. THEY DID THAT IN DETROIT, THEY’RE SENDING WORK TO INDIA AND CHINA, THESE DECISIONS HARM REAL PEOPLE…PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN ENDLESSLY LOYAL TO YOU.

  29. Dear Annonymous,

    You are analogous to the stories we hear about abused women who in the home setting are systematically mentally and physically abused by their husbands.

    Wow, you have done all of that crap for your judge?!

    What you should have done had you had the intelligence to do so should have signed up witnesses, did a bit of clandestine fact finding and reporting and submitted a report to the Judicial Conference and you would have had that federal judge severely reprimanded and you would have been reassigned to a much more pleasant judge to work with, but like an abused housewife, you were too afraid to do anything about it.

    Are you any better off for just taking it and not complaining?

    Most certainly I bet you would be the first one to agree had they put DAR in your courtroom years ago, that instead of your working in that oppressive courtroom you simply downloaded the captured audio, and worked from home, professionally banging out your transcripts, getting out the same product at the same page rates, avoiding all that pain and suffering and performing go to and do that gophering, dare I say you would have been a much happier person.

    Our time is limited as stenos in the courtroom. If you have 10 years or more before you are eligible for retirement, guess what, you will never see it. Start planning right now to freelance and take care of your own long term future. The federal sequester is not going away anytime soon. As a matter of fact every day more economists are agreeing we as a nation are very much part of a global economy, we entered into an economic malaise initially thought at first was just temporary but in fact is becoming our new norm, a standard, that we just have to accept. We are never going to return to the 1980s and 1990s.

    And very much because of what is becoming our new standard of living there are simply too many interests that are looking for ways to save a dollar court reporters in the courts are going to be looked at as non-essential, realtime as non-essential, daily copy as non-essential in 100% of all criminal trials. “Just the appeal, thanks.”

    • Although this Seattle Times article dares back to 2008, it is still the case today. There is more of this where I took this from. Just do a Google search under “Court Reporting Schools Closing”. Obviously the courts have to do something for the long term and it does not include stenos or voice writers as even fewer voice writers are exerting this specific field.

      Tuesday, August 29, 2006 – Page updated at 12:00 AM

      Troubled court reporting school says it’s closing
      By Emily Heffter
      Seattle Times staff reporter

      A local court-reporting school that state investigators say cheated students out of thousands of dollars in tuition announced Monday it would close within days. In its abrupt announcement, the Court Reporting Institute also said it was dropping its appeal of the state’s attempt to shut it down.
      The school’s announcement that it will close Wednesday could be good news for students, said Assistant Attorney General Terry Ryan, because it frees up money in a state trust fund to refund some tuition.

      “There’s definitely going to be a strong effort to give financial benefits to the students who didn’t obviously get what they bargained for,” he said.

      The Court Reporting Institute, which has campuses in North Seattle, Tacoma, San Diego and Boise, Idaho, has operated in Washington since 1988. In Seattle, state investigators found that only 6 percent of its students graduate, and 1 percent become court reporters.

      Steve Hubbard says: “How much longer is the US Department of Education going to keep throwing away good money after bad, in the millions to be sure, when everyone knows, including the NCRA, the National Court Reporting Association, that less than 5% of students ever graduate? These grants should be given to rehabilitate wounded returning veterans to learn voice writing because in steno mask or voice writing 80 percent of students graduate!

      Court reporters rapidly transcribe depositions or courtroom testimony, using a machine with 24 keys that spell words phonetically. In more than a dozen complaints to the state Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, students said the school lacked up-to-date equipment and qualified instructors, making it impossible for students to complete the program in the promised 30 months. Many attended classes for five or six years, borrowing tens of thousands of dollars for tuition.

      Steve Hubbard says: “Six years! For sure criminal conduct afoot here. I wonder if this school was NCRA approved?” If they were, shame on the NCRA for not policing the industry carefully enough because if tags school was accredited by the NCRA as one of its approved schools, they would have had to submit yearly verifiable statistics to earn the privilege to be NCRA approved.”

      Information
      Court Reporting Institute students: Call investigator Peggy Rudolph at the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board at 360-753-5662.

      The school was forced to refund some students’ tuition in 1999 and 2003 after the state found that it used deceptive practices. After a fourth investigation by the state last summer, the state tried to shut down the school. The institute appealed, and a hearing was set for mid-September.

      That hearing is now canceled, and the nine students who were named in the case will be eligible to receive about $20,000 each out of a $4 million state trust fund supported by private vocational schools.

      About 80 students who have paid tuition for this term also can apply for refunds from the trust fund.

      A receptionist who answered the phone at the Seattle campus said administrators had no comment.

      School officials called a meeting with students Monday morning and passed out a letter that read, in part: “It is with extreme sadness that we must close this school. CRI has been in business for 19 years and has helped hundreds of students move into gainful employment.”

      Evelyn Craycraft, a student in CRI’s night program, said she has paid about $9,000 in cash and borrowed $14,000 for her two years of school. She said attendance has fallen in the past several months, and there were rumors that the school was in trouble. “I’m really not surprised,” she said of the closure. “It’s a horrible school. I still felt optimistic that I could still achieve my goal.”

      Steve Hubbard says, “this is symptomatic throughout the country. Nobody wants to learn this machine and those that do only 5% graduate and according to this article if factually correct, only 1% decide to become court reporters! No wonder today’s court reporters are feeling disenfranchised and relegated to less than secretarial status in the eyes of the general public. Anybody reading this article (and many more) as they spreads throughout the Internet, any half-wit thinking about taking up court reporting will surely now look the other way in favor of taking up another vocation with far more promise to graduate and with a future, like nursing

      Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246

      Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

    • MR. HUBBARD, YOUR EMAIL ABOVE MAKES MANY INAPPROPRIATE ASSUMPTIONS. YOUR RESPONSE TO ME IS INCREDIBLY SEXIST. YOUR ASSUMPTION ABOUT MY INTELLIGENCE IS ALSO OFFENSIVE. YOUR SUGGESTION THAT PEOPLE CONSIDERING COURT REPORTING LOOK INTO “NURSING” IS INDICATIVE OF A MAN WITH ANTIQUATED AND GENDERED VIEWS. (ALTHOUGH, I AGREE THAT YOUNG WOMEN AND MEN SHOULD LOOK INTO IT OR ENGINEERING INSTEAD OF COURT REPORTING.) YOUR COMMENTS ABOVE MAKE IT CLEAR YOU ARE CLUELESS ABOUT SYSTEMS OF OPPRESSION. YOUR ADVICE REGARDING REPORTING A JUDGE TO A JUDICIAL REVIEW OF SORTS IS ALSO INCREDIBLY SHORT-SIGHTED AND OVERSIMPLIFIED. MANY COURT REPORTERS LIKE THEIR JUDGES AND ARE HAPPY TO DO THE EXTRA WORK I LISTED ABOVE WITHOUT COMPLAINT. OTHERS, LESS SO. MY COLLEGE DEGREES (YES, PLURAL) TELL ME I AM VASTLY MORE INTELLIGENT AND EDUCATED THAN YOU ARE, BUT YOUR COMMENTS ALSO CONFIRM THAT. I WRITE IN CAPS SO PEOPLE READ MY COMMENTS, NOT BECAUSE I AM IGNORANT.

      • Dearest Anonymous, you might be right on some of your claims.

        Clearly, you are frustrated about your predicament. There are plenty of people with degrees who have acquired knowledge but dont knoow how to use that knowledge as intelligence and knowledge are two separate conditions.

        All those degrees have not helped you to INTELLIGENTLY use your acquired knowledge, at least to the point where you allowed yourself to become an INDENTURED servant to a despotic judge or is it judges (you served many) who you have been complaining about or were you really in fact BRAGGING about? It is not clear in your original diatribe as you poured out your guts for everyone to marvel at.

        Yes, if you knew anything about the federal system, there are plenty instances of record where federal judges have behaved inappropriately both on and off the bench. Indeed, if you are a man, it is not clear when you cower behind the name of ANONYMOUS, so forgive my unintended sexism, but you are not a happy court reporter and anybody reading your pathetic list of 41 complaints or braggadocio where you list MANDATORY as part of your self-imposed functions, be you man or woman, you are an embarrassment.

        Mind you I might take that back.

        Because of the federal sequester many federal court reporters have been told by their boss, the Clerk of Court, to also perform other shall we say “secretarial functions” as employees of the Clerk’s office that court reporters never had to do before.

        So cheer up. You have had plenty of experience at this and you could show them how it’s done. You’d be perfect! With your résumé now published for all to see, I am sure that friends and colleagues of Judge Kopf, even your colleagues within the federal system already know who you are!

        I don’t, but guess what, I don’t care to know.

  30. This article is so disturbing. For starters, a paid employee still has to oversee the record. The annual maintenance contract for digital recording companies like Courtsmart is $100,000. Yes, annual.
    Secondly, a transcriber can type approx 7 pages an hour. A court reporter can do 20 to 30 pages an hour. I have never heard a judge say they would rather “listen” instead of “read.”
    Your court reporter should be writing realtime. The court reporters in our circuit write Realtime, read back on the fly, provide daily copies when needed, and all their judges can access any of the court proceedings whenever they choose.
    Lastly, your court reporter absolutely should interrupt because he/she is the guardian of the record. A certified court reporter will never write “inaudible.” A transcriptionist would and does.
    So with all do respect, sir, your opinion is based on technology versus a bad court reporter. But nothing can compare to a GOOD (and certified) court reporter.

    MAS

    • Dear MAS, and every federal court reporter,

      Follow this link

      http://www.geekwire.com/2012/goodbye-human-translators-microsoft-demos-robust-speech-recognition-technologyVeronica

      If PCs today can translate in real time the spoken word in English spoken in real time and converted to Mandarin in real time – TODAY – yes, speaking very slowly – but guess what – we both know that Sillicon Valley and elsewhere will create ever faster chips with the processing power with vacuum appetites to digest and spit out at 225 wpm with ever increasing accuracy in both content, idiomatic expressions translated correctly, and spelling or in te case of Madarin correct symbols AND inserting where logically the proper punctuation should be, a period, a comma, et cetera.

      Yes, the Administration of the Courts for the federal courts are very much following these trends in technology and I am convinced that soon they will be very much in the open experimenting with at first technology that I have expressed before by visiting YouTube and searching for our federal court examples of machine transcription linked to its audio or video – AND YES – not anywhere near what a final certified transcript looks like that is either created by a steno reporter or by a QWERTY keyboard typist, what is being offered here is just the first step in integrating non-human transcription services where rough drafts synchronized to the video – therefore very searchable with 100% verification – now allows an assistant public defender to have an incredible text and video record to replay and read in conjunction with the video during the trial, and in the evenings, accessing everything from the AO’s website, for millions of Americans everywhere, no matter where they are, visiting and playing back the daily trial ALL BECAUSE the AO eventually becomes the OWNER of the court record!

      Yes, if federal court reporters get to linger on as employees of their local courthouse Clerk’s Office, the first critical mass event will be their losing their ownership of the transcript and transcript sales.

      It will start off that only real time enabled reporters will stay on staff. Non-real time enabled ready court reporter will be given two years to get certificated or you will be dismissed and on the streets of Freelace America. Those that remain will surrender their original transcript that they proofread and certify but only paid for an original, be it same day, daily, expedited or regular de
      I very, but that is all you get. You will also write real time for the litigants and the judge for no extra fee or maybe for $1.00 per page, shared amongst the parties, but that’s it.

      Remember now, you still have a job if you want it. Most federal reporters will take these first moves by the AO, “It’s time to hit the streets and freelance. I am not going to put up with this crap.”

      And this is exactly what the AO wants. This and other techno moves they make such as allowing next video in criminal trials, like the ones you see of my YouTube demonstrations with Hubbard & Associates, they will in effect because of the federal sequester be patting their federal court reporters on the behind as they usher them out of their courthouses for the last time as EMPLOYESS with benefits and all that future pension money in the millions they are going to be saving and redirecting all that new found money to save the jobs of assistant public defenders and save other very worthwhile federal court programs because of ever better techno transcribing methodologies that will be able to dish out eventually real time transcription with zero human intervention SAVE for a CRD cleaning up the punctuation and verifying spellings and perhaps document translators to verify the accuracy of the translations from Spanish to English and English to Spanish real time rough draft transcriptions!

      There are too many real and validated techno experts and futurists who are physicists like Prof. Michio Kaku who are ALL saying these technologies are literally just around the corner and the cost for everything I have just outlined will be under $2.00 per page, per minute, for same day service!

      Yes, we stenos are here for just a few more years. That’s it. Even the voice writing industry has not encouraged enough educated people to take up the mask, and therefore, notwithstanding a number of them have proven to be just as capable of doing incredible real time transcription, they share the same bed with the stenos in that nobody in serious numbers are first learning the mask, and far fewer are trying to become real time court reporters!

      Therefore, there can only be one verdict. Invest your hard earned money and buy stocks in voice recognition companies. Take your money out of Stenograph Corporation, the maker of the steno machine.

      My advice to anyone, including typists who use the QWERTY keyboard, we will all become text editors. Our days of being transcribers by using our fingers is coming to an end. Be ready to transition to another career.

      Steve Hubbard

  31. MR. RGK, YOU CAN GO FUCK YOURSELF. YOU THINK YOU’RE SMARTER JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE A “JUDGE”. I AM PRETTY DAMNED SURE YOU WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO DO WHAT A TRAINED COURT REPORTER DOES. I FEEL VERY SORRY FOR YOU THAT YOU MAKE ALL THESE ASSUMPTIONS WITH NOTHING TO BACK IT UP. HAVE YOU EVER HEARD A PERSON WITH A DEEP HAITIAN/HISPANIC ACCENT?????? LETS SEE A VOICE MACHINE PICK THAT UP!!! NOT!!!! I WOULD LOVE TO SEE YOUR FACE IF PRESIDENT OBAMA TOLD YOU THAT YOU DID NOT HAVE THE QUALIFICATIONS TO BE A JUDGE. I SUGGEST YOU SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS. I ALSO FEEL VERY SORRY FOR ANYONE WHO HAS TO STEP INTO YOUR COURTROOM BECAUSE LITTLE DO THEY KNOW, THEY’RE DEALING WITH A MAN WHO HAS NO HEART. MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS TO YOU, ASSHOLE!

    • Jovan, you are an embarrassment to society and more so a pathetic excuse for a court reporter. You have obviously very little range in vocabulary that seemingly is limited to vulgar words. It is very poor excuses like you who call themselves a professional that unfortunately has Judge Kopf and his colleagues want to paint us all with the same brush that little minds like yours cannot speak their peace without resorting to subhuman Uncultured slurs as you can do so disgustingly. No matter what you think of another human being for writing his or her beliefs you can try to express your sentiments in a civilized way and get your message across, but I think you are too Neanderthal to rise to the opportunity now or ever in the future.

      Now, go back and read all the comments here in this blog started by Judge Kopf, a federal court judge still on the bench, once a chief judge of his district, and no doubt has written many articles on the law and tried many cases that you most certainly would be barred from participating as they would look at your miserable résumé and knw tht hey needed a real pro in the courtroom and not some adolescent immature unsavory type such as yourself.

      But if you want to vent your ugliness even further. Look no further than looking at me. Go to YouTube and type in Hubbard & Associates and see the technology that is beyond fantasy, to wit, fully automated multiple independent speech recognition where ZERO human being, especially of the Neanderthal types, are excluded, and only a very simple but crafty software program can translate a whole day’s video or audio trial proceedings in short order which transcript is integrated and synchronized to its audio or video!

      The poor lawyers and their Clint’s can choose to wok with this working rough draft and IF and WHEN they need a final CERTIFIED transcript, we are here to finalize the transcript by making necessary punctuation and edits as required or an additional fee OF COURSE!

      You on the other hand do not possess the bris to even work on the corrections. It takes a wide range vocabulary which you do not possess and it takes a positive attitude to upgrade one’s skills to work with this technology.

      Judge Kopf has his opinions on court reporting, and that’s all there is to it.

      I, on the other hand, will be the instrument that makes sure, as both steno and voice writer court reporters retire in the thousands after a full career, in the next several years, with little to zero replacements coming in to assume their court reporting chairs, my business platform and others like me who subscribe to this logical business opportunity, will be ushered into both courtrooms and depositions throughout America.

      Jovan, the world is changing and you are not included. Only the very best steno reporters ho can do credible Realtime will remain as part of the court reporting landscape.

  32. Pingback: The fuse worked! « Hercules and the umpire.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,217 other followers

%d bloggers like this: