Realtime technology allows court reporters to instantly convert their stenographic notes into English text. The text is then displayed on computer monitors or large projection screens placed around the courtroom. The steno machines used today by court reporters are fully computerized. The realtime software translates the stenographic symbols and allows reporters to keep courtroom records in a digital format. This technology is the nucleus of computerized courtrooms and lets court reporters deliver transcripts within hours, or even minutes, after court adjourns.
To perform realtime writing, court reporters must learn a “conflict-free” theory. Court reporters continuously build their software translation dictionaries so possible words, names, places or events that may be mentioned will translate correctly. They also need to build and customize their software dictionaries to translate homophones (for example, three separate and distinct entries for their, there, and they’re). In addition, another important element of realtime writing is speed skills. Court reporters generally take down testimony at an average speed of 180 or more words per minute. To be certified nationally as a realtime writer, court reporters must be able to take down testimony at speeds up to 225 words per minute.
How Realtime Works In A Computerized Courtroom Like Courtroom 23
During the trial, the judge and attorneys can review and mark portions of testimony and make notes within the transcript on their computer screens without interrupting the proceedings. They can perform searches for specific words, phrases, roots of words, and other more complicated information in one or more documents simultaneously. Searches through a file can be made forward or backward, or the search can be set to tag or highlight certain words as the trial proceeds.
Court reporters utilize realtime technology to print rough transcripts of testimony or copy them in ASCII format onto floppy disks for attorneys and judges during breaks in the trial. Final copy can be delivered in printed text, on disk, by e-mail or posted to a Web site for authorized users to access after court adjourns for the day.
In-court computerization opens a world of research capabilities. Attorneys and judges can call up depositions to compare with current testimony. CD-ROM technology enables attorneys to bring volumes of legal research into the courtroom on a thin disk. Through e-mail and the Internet, attorneys can send the trial proceedings off-site, access online legal research programs or communicate with co-counsel and consult expert witnesses off-site.
Recently in Maryland, realtime translation was used for the first time in lieu of a sign language interpreter when a deaf juror wanted to see the words that were said without interpretation. She also felt realtime allowed her to better "blend in" with the rest of the jury.
Realtime technology can also be expanded to include systems that provide judges and court clerks access to administrative data from information captured by the court reporter, known as Reporter Electronic Data Interchange, as well as systems that help the courts meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
Additional Contact Information
LegalVoice/Court Reporters News Bureau
255 Old New Brunswick Road, #N280
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Phone: (732) 562-0800 or 981-8014
Fax: (732) 562-9722
National Court Reporters Association (NCRA)
8224 Old Courthouse Road
Vienna, VA 22182-3808
Phone: (703) 556-6272
Fax: (703) 556-6291