Court reporters are responsible for creating a written record of what happens in the courtroom. Whether they use the voice writing or stenography method, they use a form of shorthand that makes it possible for them to transcribe more than 200 words per minute. They also record body language, voice inflections, and physical actions. At a later time, the transcripts they produce are expanded to plain English, which is the official record. During the process of going from shorthand to the full words of the official record, proofreading is an important step. Proofreading is an essential part of the court reporting process for these reasons:
It’s imperative that the official record is accurate. After all, transcripts are important to the legal system in this country. Being human, even the most accurate court reporters are sometimes fallible. There are times when it’s not easy to hear what was said or when it’s easy to mishear words, such as when the person who is speaking mumbles. Homophones, such as “there,” “their”, and “they’re,” can make it a challenge as well. Additionally, there may be nuances of the case itself that the court reporter is missing or not fully understanding in an effort to get all of what is said transcribed. Proofreading a transcript is the best way to make sure the official record is accurate before it becomes the official record.
It’s not enough to mark down everything that is said and done in the courtroom; it has to be recorded in sentences that make sense. This is one significant advantage that trained reporters have over electronic recording systems that are starting to be used in some courtrooms. We are able to know if a sentence is actually coherent and not just passed as acceptable simply because all the words are spelled correctly. Also, if the transcript does not make any sense, it will not be of much use as the official record for that court session or legal proceeding. Using proper grammar is a large part of a sentence’s coherence.
Employing proper grammar is undoubtedly important for court reporters. However, ensuring the accuracy of punctuation is more crucial. Punctuation has the power to change the meaning of a sentence. Ending a sentence with an exclamation point gives a sentence a different meaning and emotion than if it is concluded with a period and that’s why exclamations are never used in court transcripts. Commas also have the power to swing the meaning of a sentence if they are put in a different place. Punctuation is also a challenge because how we speak is often different than how we write. The meaning (punctuation) of the official transcript can have significant consequences in the outcome of a court case.
Above all, a court reporter is only as good as the transcripts he or she creates. Not only should you look over your transcripts thoroughly before you submit them, it’s also a good idea to have a colleague, known as a proofreader, look them over as well. It always helps to get another set of eyes on your work. And, it’s often easy to overlook errors we make in our own writing while others can pick them out of the prose right away. At the end of the day, your reputation as a court reporter hinges on the quality of your work. Taking the extra time to thoroughly proofread your transcripts can make all the difference.
By now you’re aware of the vast importance of proofreading in court reporting. If you’re not the world’s greatest proofreader right now, don’t worry. Enrolling in a court reporting program can help you get better while you also learn the ins and outs of the profession. For that, there is no better place to learn than Brown College of Court Reporting.
Discover Your New Career at Brown
For more than 47 years, Brown College of Court Reporting (BCCR) has been preparing students for success in the court reporting field. Brown is the only National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) approved court reporting program in the state of Georgia.
With day, night and, online options available, it’s easy to fit our program into your schedule regardless of whether you enroll full or part time. Our classes are typically eight to 12 students, so you know you’ll receive the personalized instruction needed to become a professional.
Brown College also has career services available that can help you land employment following graduation. Don’t take our word for it; 100 percent of our graduates from 2015 and 2016 are currently employed. Your new career is only a few keystrokes away. Visit us online at https://bccr.edu/ today.