court stenographers

Ok, if you’re so smart - help me with these: do court stenos take down EVERYTHING that’s said? e.g. “uh, I, er…” etc, ? And - about how much money do these people make?

Actually, they do take down every word, sound, hem, haw, umm, etc. (I’ve read a LOT of court transcripts) Court transcripts read kinda like closed-captioning on TV.

For more information:

This is the Occupational Outlook Handbook that lists information about this. Court reporters earn quite a bit of money, but it’s a lot of work.


They take every SOUND down. Some sounds conveniently form words.

The make from 25k free lancing to 100k/yer.

Stenographers make a considerable amount of money transcribing the court notes and supplying them (at cost) to the necessary parties.

It is hard work, as transcription is done at night, or after regular hours.

Why not record everything? (Not asked, but I’ll answer)

Machines would be too damned exspensive…still need humans to run the equipment…equipment can’t say “Sorry, Doctor, could you repeat that description of the disease and the spelling of pneumonotralmicroscpoicvolcanioliasis”

There are search engines, and then there’s the sdmb, where you can actually find out exactly what you actually want to know.

Does that mean they include the thunder-like sound of a fart being emanated into the atmosphere by someone in the room? Can the judge have farts omitted from the official record? How are farts “typed in”? Phonetically? Using a predetermined symbol?

What kind of information do they use to describe the fart? Intensity? Duration? Name of the offending ass?

Do they use specialized instruments to quantitatively measure such vital pieces of information? I imagine that a decibel meter is employed to gather data regarding the intensity, right? How about atomic clocks to measure the farts brief, yet attention-grasping, duration? “Fart seismographs” to determine the epicenter, i.e., ground zero, sound reasonable, don’t they?

Can a lawyer ask for a recess so he can go fart outside the courtroom and thus respect the sanctity of the American Judicial System?

Is there any historical account on record where a prosecutor / defendant lost his case because he ventilated an unsolicited gaseous emanation in the judge’s vicinity and motivated him to rule against him?

Has a member of the jury ever been replaced on the count of “farting too much”?

Can the judge impose a penalty on someone for farting inside the courtroom? Is expelling a fart in the direction of the American Flag considered a desecration against its purity? Can someone be convicted on such charges?

Can a US president be impeached for lying about fart-related matters? More specifically, assuming a particular president negated the fact that he farted and, through the use of state of the art technology, it could be proven conclusively and beyond any reasonable or unreasonable doubt that he indeed farted, could he be impeached on the grounds that lying about farts provides a solid basis to suspect that he could very well be a compulsive liar and thus a threat to national security?

Am I annoying you? Did I fart up this post? :smiley:

Yoda or Yogurt? A dilemma for the ages.

Even when recording comes out less expensive than having a stenographer there ( part of my job involves recorded hearings which do not require an extra person to run the machinery- the judge turns it on- and so much of the day is spent off the record that you’d be paying a stenographer for a full day to work for an hour or two} you still will need a transcript for an appeal. If the machinery malfunctions, you won’t be able to get a transcript.

Of course they record farts. It stares with "The plantiff’s lawyer said - "

After all, a fart is just an asshole making noise. :slight_smile:

Seriously, it is a record of what is said. They do not describe what is going on. If someone threw a book across the room, it would not be described unless it was requested ‘Let the record show that … threw a book across the room’.

Plaintif’s Lawyer: Let the record show the defendant made a squeaky pooting sound followed shortly by a slapping wet fleshy sound which lofted up from his lower trouser area.

Defendants Lawyer: Objection!

Judge: I will allow the squeaky pooting sound, but the slapping wet fleshy sound was hearsay and will not be entered into record.

I said

To which CC replied via e-mail:

Dude (or dudette):

Couple of things, stated in order of increasing importance:

If you are going to e-mail me, please notify me on the appropriate thread or I will likely never know you did. I seldomly check my spam-filled inbox and when I do, any relevant messages that I might have will probable be buried several pages deep.

If you took offense for what could have being interpreted as a mocking attitude, I heartily apologize. That was never my intention. I realize you had a serious question and GQ is not the ideal forum for pathetic attempts at being humorous, like the one in my previous post. Once again, my sincere apologies.

But look at the bright part, my idiotic remarks prompted Saltfish to contribute this:

Which pretty much answered your question. So, at the end, even though I farted up my post, it stimulated coherent and educated responses that enhanced the value of this thread and facilitated the evacuation of your doubt.

BTW, If you are interested in becoming a stenographer after reading Philster’s statement regarding their nice salaries, well, I think I would have to advise you against that. At the current pace of technological prowess, you can expect improved voice recognition software to effectively replace stenos in a few years. Of course, I’m just WAGging here, but that appears as a rather plausible scenario.

Hope I didn’t fart up this post as much as I did the previous one. :smiley:

I am possibly being really stupid here, but could you further explain this? Are you implying that they are freelancers who are not on the court’s payroll? Or, if they are but are making money on the side by selling the transcripts, how is that possible? Shouldn’t transcripts be court’s property and thus not theirs to sell?

I assume that what you are saying is that stenos enhance the original transcript by editing it when needed to make it more clear and comprehensible This would definitely involve additional work and hence justify their charging extra money to the interested parties.

Anyway, could you step back to the plate and clarify this for me? Thanks.

How it works here is that they are paid employees of the court who make money by selling the transcripts. They don’t get to set their own fees,there’s a schedule with a price per page. My understanding is that the transcriptions are done outside of their regular working hours.Should the transcript be the court’s property? Well, it should if the court is going to pay for the time it takes to do the transcription,but here they don’t.And remember, the court doesn’t pay the fee for the transcript, the party who wants it does.

It’s not a matter of enhancing the original transcript,but of producing the original one. Some stenographers still use paper and even the disks need some editing for names, similar sounding words, etc. Also, transcripts are not necessarily produced in every case. I ordered a transcript months after a trial was over, and had to want for it to be transcribed. The defendant was acquitted, so there would be no appeal, and therefore no need for a transcript until I ordered one. (BTW, the state agency rate was something like 1.35/perpage}

Posted on behalf of my friend Lunjo, who works as a court reporter in Toronto:

In Ontario reporters in court are paid a salary for the sitting and usually only paid when they are sitting (i.e. not a weekly or a monthly salary) so they are government employees in a hybrid way. They produce transcripts for the court or parties to litigation on request after sitting hours and charge according to a legislated tarrif sheet. It’s like having two full-time jobs. They pay for all their own equipment and maintenance and some of their supplies but are not allowed to claim expenses against their taxes.
Freelance reporters work directly for clients or get placed by agencies under a similar scenario. They pay for all their own equipment, maintenance and supplies. The transcripts are only done when ordered, the reporter is only paid a sitting fee for the duration of the proceeding, and all transcript work is done outside these hours.
I suspect if you’ve seen transcripts done with every “ugh” included they were done from an audio-only record. I take proceedings live on a steno shorthand machine which is then translated almost simultaneously into English on my comupter. I currently only do this for my own benefit to
shorten transcript production time but have the ability to hook up other computers for display of the transcript, as was done in the O.J. Simpson trial. The reporters there were also sending transcript out over the Internet simultaneously.
The way I look at it is: a transcript should contain substantive information to be used at appeal. This means - you’ve got it - no farts. If, however, a substantive legal discussion ensued (and I can’t see how it would) about the farts, I would have to work it in somehow :-).
A transcript reflects the words and not the demeanor of the participants so I don’t have to worry about how long someone takes to answer a question or put in “umm”, “aww” and the like. If counsel wish to demonstrate demeanor, they have to say it in words, such as “Let the record show that the witness hesitated considerably before answering that question.”
I do not, nor do I expect to get every word down live. People are just too undisciplined these days for that to happen. I’m happy if they can either speak loudly OR clearly OR slowly OR one at a time. To expect all four seems to be asking too much these days. Thus the preparation time involved in transcripts.
Even though I use a system where the bulk of the transcript is done as I go along, there will still be parts where I hit the wrong keys, didn’t have an appropriate entry in my translating dictionary, unfamiliar names or terms are mentioned and not clarified, counsel reads in from documents that have to be cross-checked by me later, or I just couldn’t hear because of mumbling or overtalking.
The little machine I use has 28 keys very close together. In order to take down speech at 200 words per minute I have to hit combinations of those keys absolutely accurately at the rate of 4 times per second as I’m hearing the words. Faster speech, more strokes per second. This means I have to hear and understand the words, write those down as I’m hearing new words, and write those down.
I also have to hit strokes to include speaker designations, e.g. THE COURT, THE WITNESS, as each new speaker begins, because a transcript is useless if you don’t know who said the words. I also write in as much punctuation and formatting as I go along to save time on transcript production later. This means that one lawyer may have three different strokes depending upon what they’re doing: MR. LAWYER if he/she is talking to the judge or the other lawyers; BY MR. LAWYER: Q. if he/she is returning to questioning the witness after talking to the judge or other lawyers; and Q. alone if he/she is in the middle of a string of questions and answers. There are other formatting strokes I use that I won’t bore you with now. I also have to distinguish and write differently all homonyms as I’m going along. So there is a lot of room for error.
The other reason the whole shebang has to be checked is I have to be able to certify the transcript as to its correctness. I use a backup tape recorder and check my transcript against the recording because one never knows what is going to happen in a courtroom, and since I do have to certify, I want to make really sure that the transcript is right. I am subject to cross-examination about the correctness of the transcripts I do and quite often my transcripts can affect the course of people’s lives. This is a major reason why cost-saving efforts of using un-monitored tape recording only that is transcribed by someone not present at the proceedings should be looked at very carefully before it is used.
My system also uses the long, narrow strip of newsprint paper in the machine and indelible ink. I have grave concerns today with digital taping being used in courts about the ability of someone to change a record. Now, unlike in the 70’s, it would probably be completely undetectable. I keep my notes for a minimum of ten years and they cannot be changed without anyone noticing, even if my hard copy transcript is changed.
The point that is perhaps the most difficult to adress is compensation for all of this. Yes, it appears that court reporters make a lot of money, but here’s what they have to do for it: work long hours at peak intensity making as few errors as possible with extremely tight deadlines in what amounts to two or more full-time jobs. Reporters are expected to ALWAYS put transcripts first, and that’s ahead of family gatherings, weddings, funerals, school, children, spouses, parties, everything. When I client wants a transcript tomorrow because they forgot to tell their secretary to order it and they’re going into court, they can’t understand when a reporter says no. Isn’t that their job? Also, since a reporter only gets paid when they work, a dry spell is a killer and competition for work can be fierce in larger centres.
A reporter works under the continual threat of replacement by “modern technology”. My steno machine was invented before the turn of the century and hasn’t changed since. Using it and my computer and specialized software, I can provide almost instantaneous transcript for public view during the proceedings or over the Internet. This is the same technology used for live closed captions on television. How much more modern than that can you get? :slight_smile:
A final note about voice recognition systems. I work in Toronto, Canada, reportedly the most culturally diverse city in the world, and I know that an independent voice recognition system will not work in my court. I hear too many different types of English, people have colds, and the one thing you can never get away from in a legal setting is the shuffling of paper. It’s all around and it’s thunderous when I’m trying to listen to what people say. Have you ever seen a voice-recog system try to translate paper shuffling?