Court Reporting and Technology

If the Covid-19 era has taught court reporters anything, it is that technology changes fast and we need to adapt quickly. Rather than traveling to in-person depositions, we were thrust into the world of video depositions. After all, lawsuits were still happening and courts were operating, even if in a lesser capacity. Lockdowns had us worried but we learned to change with the times with remote depositions in a pandemic world.

The challenge today is that the rules of court reporting and technology, specifically recording video depositions, are from 2006, years before a pandemic locked the world down. The world has changed, as has the technology and how we manage remote depositions. In this article, I write about the rise of technology, especially for court reporters. In later articles, I will be writing about how technology and the law haven’t caught up with each other and where that leaves us.

Angela Miller, the President of the Arizona Court Reporters Association (ACRA) said in the September 2021 issue of the ACRA Newsletter, “Our skill set cannot be replicated, and our dedication to our profession cannot be rivaled. We have proven to attorneys, judges, and court personnel that we are adaptive, we are flexible, and we can provide services on the fly with up-to-date technology and knowledge, and we can provide all of this not only in person but remotely.”

I agree wholeheartedly with her. At Herder and Associates, we’ve had to make quick adjustments, just like the rest of the world.

Court Reporting and Technology: A Brief History

In 2006, there was a rule put in place, that still stands today, which says court reporters are not allowed to record video depositions. That was fine at the time because most of our depositions were done on-site in conference rooms across the state of Arizona. People of all professions were primarily working in corporate offices, not at home, and the world had no idea what a pandemic would do to the way we work and where we work.

At that time, Twitter was being released. No one knew what to do with only 140 characters in a message. Today, the messages are up to 280 characters because of users requesting more space to write and Twitter giving us that. Apple released the new iMac with Intel Core Duo processor and introduced the MacBook Pro. Facebook was only two years old. Instagram was four years from existing in the public space and TikTok was probably not even an idea. In other words, technology has come a long way in 16 years.

In June 2013, Zoom was released for use, but it wasn’t until Spring 2020, the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns when it became widely popular. Attorneys and court reporters alike began using Zoom for video depositions as the rest of the world was meeting via the same platform. It makes sense that we started recording depositions, to the chagrin of some, because we needed to go back and listen, to make sure we were, and still are, accurately capturing what was said. Life was chaotic so we used technology to ease the stress.

Everyone from solopreneurs to corporate America was embracing life on Zoom. It makes sense that court reporters would use it too.

The problem is that the rules from 2006 said we couldn’t record depositions, even if they were via video. In today’s world, this may not make sense anymore. What’s even more embarrassing is that there are people who have an agenda to keep us in 2006 without considering that technology and the world have changed. In order for court reporters to do their jobs, we need to provide a more accurate deposition. For some, that means using technology to record depositions, but not everyone agrees this should be happening.

In later articles, I will be discussing why this antiquated way of thinking is ruining the already demand-heavy industry of court reporting.

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