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Criminal Justice Articles

Getting hired as a Court Reporter

A court reporter's job is to dictate every single word spoken in the court room, and then document this information using a special stenograph machine. The court reporter must be able to dictate the words exactly as they are spoken by the prosecuting and defending attorneys, the person on trial, all witnesses, the judge and jury, the bailiff and the victim. Court reporters use a special machine that has 22 keys on it, and the stenograph machine is designed to allow them to compress and shorten all words spoken so that more can be documented quickly.

Those interested in becoming a court reporter must understand how to use this specialized machine, and they must be proficient in shorthand. Good comprehension and communication skills are an absolute must, since the words the court reporter is documenting will become a permanent part of the court's record. In most cases, people must be certified and receive a degree that specializes in court reporting. Many smaller community colleges offer degrees in court reporting, and there are some schools who offer the necessary courses completely online.

The process involved in getting hired as a court reporter requires not only training and certification, but on the job training as well. Most court reporters start off as an assistant so they can be trained and observe how the process works. Being able to quickly and accurately dictate words spoken (this is known as transcription) is essential, and being able to do so in a courtroom is even more important. A good understanding of the legal system and legal terms is crucial, since most judges and lawyers will be using these types of terms quite frequently.

Sometimes, a court reporter must transcribe information that is a bit more difficult to handle in terms of the emotional impact it may have. The reporter must be able to handle difficult testimony by witnesses, detailed accounts of crimes committed, and testimony from victims' family members. Punctuality is absolutely essential, since the court cases cannot continue without the reporter there. Dependability is a must when it comes to being hired as a court reporter.

Other duties of a court reporter include compiling and distributing reports to the judge and lawyers, printing out and organizing court records, working odd hours on occasion, and being able to record and transcribe words with a rate of 100% accuracy. There is no room for mistakes when it comes to court reporting since this information can determine someone's guilt or innocence. The job of a court reporter is extremely important and can impact an entire trial.

Each state has different requirements for court reporters, so it's up to the individual to determine what is needed before they can be hired. A government clearance might also be needed, since some cases are performed under governmental jurisdiction. The court reporter that is present must be able to pass a background and drug test in order to perform his or her duties in this setting. There are many opportunities for the right court reporter that has a good combination of experience and training.

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