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June 02, 2014

Court Reporting GIFs

I am a broadcast captioner. I love it and revel in the fact that I sit at home in my pajamas while watching TV as my career. But before I could begin captioning, I had to get my feet wet in the stenography industry by starting out in court reporting. Court reporting had its perks, but for me, the cons outweighed the pros. Luckily, I always knew court reporting would only be a stepping stone to captioning. 

I'll do a post about captioning someday, but for this post I shall focus on court reporting.

A brief explanation of a court reporter: a person whose occupation is to transcribe spoken or recorded speech into written form, using machine shorthand to produce official transcripts of court hearings, depositions/examinations, and other official proceedings.

I only ever did examinations, not actual court proceedings.

I shall now give you a glimpse into the life of a court reporter, or at least my experience, through GIFs, naturally. I'm sure my fellow stenogs will appreciate these, but for those who may not understand the sentiment behind them, I have provided explanations.

Every. Single. Day.
People talk fast. The end.

Finding out the witness is ESL (English as a second language):
It's hard enough to transcribe exceptionally well-spoken English at a typical speed of 250+ WPM. But it can really throw off a stenographer when odd inflections, unique speech patterns, and mispronounced words (or made-up words) are thrown into the mix.

When I realize my voice recorder isn't recording:
It's impossible to be a hundred percent accurate a hundred percent of the time. So we use backup audio recordings and make corrections to the transcripts later. The firm I worked for required us to have at least two or three methods of voice recording. I myself had three. For a court reporter, the realization that something might not have been recorded is enough to induce a mini heart attack.

When an examination ends super early:
Probably the best part about court reporting. We would start work at 10 a.m. and could sometimes be done within 15 minutes or half an hour. For the entire day! ...but then we usually had transcripts to work on at home anyway.

When any of my numerous batteries are dying:
We're using a lot of equipment. So there is much potential for malfunctions, and some lawyers are none too pleased if you interrupt their examination with such malfunctions. 

"Subject to anything arising from my requests, those are my questions."
The typical ending to an examination, which meant my work day was over. These words were sweet to my ears.

Working on an influx of backorders:
A backorder is when counsel (lawyers) didn't initially order a transcript on the day of the examination but then order it at a later date. If you get a bunch of backorders all at once, it can get pretty messy.

When counsel says they don't need a copy of the transcript:
But as I just explained, this can just be a trick.

When people say made-up words:
You wouldn't believe some of the strange made-up words that are said in examinations. 

When things start getting a little too tense between counsel and the witness:
Examinations can get pretty awkward and ugly at times.

Trying to keep my composure when people self-represent:
Self-representing is when someone doesn't have a lawyer to represent them. This can be when a witness is giving testimony or sometimes self-reps will even conduct the examination, which is always good for a laugh. You see, they have no idea what they're doing, and lawyers let them know it.

When people's sex lives enter the conversation:
Oh, the things I heard...

When there's a competent interpreter:
It's such a slow process for a non-English-speaking witness to go through an interpreter that I can basically go into auto-pilot and multitask (internet surf, read) while writing.

When there's an incompetent interpreter:
This. Is. Death. I've had some examinations where the interpreter speaks worse English than the witness. And it's a huge mess if the witness keeps trying to interject in broken English without going through the interpreter.

When I had a weekend with no transcripts to work on:
A rare occurrence indeed.

When I'm asked to do a read-back:
The dreaded read-back. This is when a lawyer asks the court reporter to read back something that's been said on record, and we all pray that we didn't screw that particular part up.

When my equipment malfunctioned on the job:
Again, lawyers don't like to be interrupted. So when malfunctions occurred, I'd often just play through the pain, so to speak.

When I see a court reporter in a movie or on TV:
"Look, Eric! That's me! That's me!"

When the TV court reporter is using a Diamente:
A Diamante is the actual fancy-shmancy machine that I use:

How I feel at the beginning of the day:
How I feel at the end of the day:
Writing for a whole examination can be exceptionally draining.

Lawyer to Witness: "You have to answer with "yes" or "no". The court reporter can't pick up answers like "m'mm-hmm" or "uh-huh"."
Lawyer, you just did what you said can't be done!

Being called in to work on a day off:
I lived really close to the office. So if there was a last-minute examination, I was usually the one that got called to come in. Ugh.

When counsel orders an expedited transcript:
I'll just whip that up with all that free time I have.

Working on transcripts at 4 a.m.
Got to meet those deadlines!

When witnesses and lawyers didn't eat the refreshments my firm provided:
I claim these as my own!

When counsel don't specify they're going off record:
I'm not a mind reader!

How I feel about the concept of verbatim transcripts:
Verbatim sucks.

When the witness is clearly exaggerating their claim:
Sure you can't vacuum anymore due to your "injuries". Sure...

When I actually do believe the witness and start sympathizing with them too much:
You poor you. Now stop talking so fast, please.

When the lawyer and witness keep talking over each other:
Quit it! It's your transcript that's going to end up looking like crap!

When I'm in a divorce examination:
Divorce examinations could be quite... lively.

Transcripts. Period.
Homework for my adult career? No thank you. Don't miss this aspect one bit.

While I much prefer captioning, I will admit that there were definitely some good laughs had from court reporting.